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The Guardian: The Acropolis Museum Is The Best Place To House The Parthenon Marbles

Parthenon_Marbles“The Parthenon marbles are the world’s most beautiful art – and that’s why we should give them back,” columnist Jonathan Jones wrote in an article published in The Guardian on 18 August.

In the article, the columnist expresses his opinion that the “consummately beautiful sculptures,” housed in the British Museum, demand a proper setting. “And a trip to Athens has convinced me the Acropolis Museum is that place,” he notes.

A caryatid from the Erechtheion, stands alone, displayed at the British Museum.

A caryatid from the Erechtheion, stands alone, displayed at the British Museum.

“What can you do with the world’s most beautiful art? Where does it belong? How should it be cared for and displayed?”

Mr. Jones explains that the art in question is the array of sculpture created in Athens in the 5th century BC to decorate the Parthenon, the temple to Athena that still, today, dominates the skyline of the Greek capital.

“Notoriously, the best-preserved stone carvings that survived on the temple in the early 19th century were removed by Lord Elgin and brought to London, where they have been a fixture of the British Museum ever since. Equally notoriously, Greece wants the Parthenon marbles (aka the Elgin marbles) back – and in 2009 opened a state-of-the-art museum beneath the Acropolis hill on which the Parthenon stands, to house them.”

Through his article, Mr. Jones explains why the marbles should be returned to its home in Greece.

“The sad truth is that in the British Museum, the Parthenon sculptures are not experienced at their best. For one thing, they’re shown in a grey, neoclassical hall whose stone walls don’t contrast enough with these stone artworks – it is a deathly space that mutes the greatest Greek art instead of illuminating it,” he notes.

He believes that if the British Museum wants to keep these masterpieces it needs to find the money to totally redisplay them in a modern way.

Elgin_Marbles“Or, it could give them to Greece, which has already built a superb modern museum to do just that,” Mr. Jones underlines.

According to the columnist, the “great thing” about the Acropolis Museum’s display of the Parthenon sculptures – which currently includes pieces left by Elgin, plus casts – is that it makes it easy to see how the sculptures fitted on the building, and how they work as an ensemble.

“It also has one advantage London can never rival – you can look from the sculptures to the museum’s glass wall and see the Parthenon itself, making a sensual connection between the art and its architectural home,” he says.

In concluding his opinion, Mr. Jones says that Greece has proved it loves this art and sees it for what it is. “It is Greece, and not the British Museum, that deserves to be custodian of the world’s greatest art, for the world. And for art.”

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