London, Europe Brief News — After more than two centuries, the British Museum’s deputy director has suggested a “Parthenon collaboration” with Greece that might see the marbles restored to Athens.
The 17 statues and part of a frieze that adorned the 2,500-year-old Parthenon temple on the Acropolis were seized by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century when he was the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, and where they should be placed has since been the subject of a protracted argument.
Jonathan Williams stated in an interview with the Sunday Times Culture magazine that the British Museum wants to “alter the temperature of the discussion” over the marbles.
Williams stated, “We request an active “Parthenon cooperation” with our Greek friends and colleagues. I am certain that there is room for a dynamic and constructive dialogue in which new collaboration methods may be discovered.”
The British Museum has not said it would return the sculptures, and Williams argues that they are “absolutely indispensable” to the collection.
However, he stated that they “want to shift the tenor of the discussion” and that all parties must “find a path ahead based on cultural interaction of a degree, intensity, and dynamism not previously envisioned.”
He continued, “There are several excellent items that we would be thrilled to borrow and lend. It is our business.”
Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the prime minister of Greece, has repeatedly demanded the return of the Parthenon Marbles and even offered to lend the British Museum some of his country’s other masterpieces in compensation.
Mitsotakis has reiterated that Greece is willing to negotiate, but he has emphasised that “baby measures are insufficient.” We want significant steps.”
The director of the Acropolis Museum, Nikolaos Stampolidis, stated that the “positive Parthenon cooperation offer” might serve as a “base for productive negotiations.”
He continued, “In the tough times we live, their return would be an act of history. It would be the equivalent of the British restoring democracy itself.”