Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni recently tabled a bill amendment in parliament that will give museums the right to loan moveable art works for a total period of up to 50 years to international entities.
According to a ministry announcement, the idea behind the amendment is to “re-introduce Greece to the world” and is part of a bid to showcase Greek culture worldwide.
The revision to the current five-year restriction foresees the loan of items and art works for a period of 25 years with the possibility of a 25-year extension.
“Greece is internationally recognized as a major force in the field of cultural heritage. We therefore consider it imperative to promote Greek culture throughout the world. Especially in areas where the expatriate element is strong (Australia-USA),” said the ministry.
The Benaki Museum will be the first to lend under this law a series of art works currently in its warehouses to the Hellenic Museum in Melbourne. The items will go on display in a specially designed area dubbed “Benaki Museum Melbourne”.
“The country’s museums have millions of movable monuments which are kept in warehouses. Of these, some, selected by the museums themselves, and after obtaining the approval of the competent services of the culture ministry and of the Central Archaeological Council, will be able to be exhibited as a single collection with long-term borrowing in museums or exhibition spaces abroad, necessarily retaining the name of the museum that lends its objects,” said the ministry.
Citing similar practices by other museums worldwide, the Greek culture ministry supports its decision by arguing that instead of being forgotten in warehouses, the lent exhibitions will serve as “ambassadors of Greece abroad”.
Indicatively, according to a National Museums Partnership report, in 2019, UK museums loaned nearly half a million objects to museums, galleries and institutions across the globe.