The Parthenon Marbles (ctd.)

December 12 2022

Image of The Parthenon Marbles (ctd.)

Picture: BG

Liam Kelly in The Times reports that George Osborne, chair of the British Museum, has been having secret talks with the Greek Prime Minister, over the possible return of the Parthenon Marbles. This feels like a significant moment. I don't think such high levels talks would happen if there hadn't been progress further down the chain of command, so to speak.

I note also that 10 Downing Street, under Rishi Sunak, has stopped short of declaring outright opposition to any repatriation, as Liz Truss did in her brief, inglorious premiership. Instead, they've gone back to the 'it's up to the British Museum' formula.

So, my best guess is we could see a development soon, probably to coincide with the announcement on a major refurbishment of the British Museum. Where better to move the Marbles while the Duveen Galleries are rebuilt than the Parthenon? And after the move has been seen to be a success and the British Museum isn't emptied of everything (as opponents of returning the Marbles like to claim), then who will object to most of them staying in Athens on long-term loan? Not many, I suspect. 

Incidentally, I see also that Lord Parkinson, who was arts minister under Boris Johnson, has been reappointed to the post under Rishi Sunak. He was replaced as arts minister under Liz Truss. A good reappointment, I think, he has always been interested in the arts and culture brief. 

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