The Duveen Gallery at the British Museum. Present home to the Elgin Marbles
Lara Prendergast in The Spectator last Tuesday couldn’t have put it better when she says, “George Clooney may be many things, but an art historian he is not.” That he isn’t, Lara, but he still seems to think himself qualified to voice an opinion on the repatriation of the Elgin (or Eljin as he pronounces it) Marbles to the Pantheon… Pantheon? Did you mean the Parthenon George and… oh dear… the actual Parthenon and not the Acropolis Museum?
Ms Prendergast goes on to say –
Clooney then waded in with a measly dose of cultural finesse:
‘Even in England, the polling is in favour of returning the marbles to the Pantheon [sic]. The Vatican returned parts of it, the Getty returned parts of it [the Vatican gave a section of the Parthenon frieze to the Acropolis museum in Athens on loan; the J Paul Getty museum in Los Angeles repatriated looted treasures last year]. There are certain pieces you look at and think, “That would perhaps be the right thing to do”.’
Which ‘certain pieces’ do you look at George? Do you even know the difference between the Parthenon and the Pantheon? The debate about the Elgin Marbles may be hackneyed, but it is still an intellectual one. And it is, in the grand scheme of things, more important than the promotion of a Hollywood blockbuster.
Hear, hear Lara, we couldn’t have put it better, but we’d also like to ask George whether or not he’s actually seen the Marbles at the British Museum and whether or not he’s aware of the restrictions in place on the Museum when it comes to disposing of any object in its collection – whether through sale, exchange, repatriation or disposal in some other way. It can’t be done – at least not without changing the law. That’s not to say there isn’t a case to be made for the Marbles repatriation (it would certainly free up much needed gallery space for, dare we say it, more interesting exhibitions) and we’ve presented both sides of the repatriation argument on these pages before (type Elgin Marbles in the search box above for more).
When all’s said and done however the debate is, as Lara Prendergast writes, “…an intellectual one. And it is, in the grand scheme of things, more important than the promotion of a Hollywood blockbuster.”
Full Independent article here.