British Museum under pressure over ‘Stolen’ sculptures

Elgin Marbles East Pediment at British Museum Credit: Andrew Dunn CC

The Vatican has returned three fragments of the Parthenon sculptures to Greece, a move that could put pressure on The British Museum to follow suit, according to Sky News.

On a visit to Athens over two years ago, Pope Francis discussed the return of the sculptures that had been held in the Vatican Museum for over two centuries.

Meanwhile, The British Museum has resisted calls to return the controversial ‘Elgin Marbles’ to Greece, after they were brought to the UK in the 19th century by diplomat Lord Elgin.

The culture minister for Greece Lina Mendoni said: “Initiatives like these show the way, how the pieces of the Parthenon can be reunited, healing the wounds caused by barbaric hands so many years ago.

“This takes us to the just and moral demand of the entire Greek people, and of this government and its prime minister, for the final return of all the sculptures of the Parthenon.”

Only about 50 per cent of the original sculpture survive today, of these, around half are in Athens and half in the British Museum.

Ms Mendoni said her country “cannot recognise possession and ownership by the British Museum because it considers the sculptures to be there as a product of theft”.

However, The British museum says that giving them up could undermine museum collections worldwide and that Elgin had acted with the “full knowledge and permission of the legal authorities of the day in both Athens and London”.

Archbishop Ieronymos II, the leader of Greece’s Orthodox Church said: “This act by Pope Francis is of historical significance and has a positive impact on all levels. . . We hope it sets an example for others.”

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals. When he's not writing for EWN he enjoys gigging in a acoustic duo, looking after their four dogs, four chickens, two cats, and cycling up mountains very slowly.