Greece must acknowledge the British Museum ’s ownership of the Parthenon Marbles before its Trustees consider whether or not to lend them to Greece. This is what a museum representative told the London correspondent of daily Ta Nea.
“A precondition for any loan would be an acceptance of ownership of those objects by the Trustees / the Museum”, a British Museum spokesperson told Ta Nea, commenting on Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s recent statement that he will ask Boris Johnson to approve a loan of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens in a temporary swap with other ancient artefacts.
“The Trustees will consider any loan request for any part of the collection. As yet there has been no direct contact from the Greek authorities regarding the proposal made over the weekend”, a British Museum’s spokeswoman said, stressing that “as an arms-length body, this would be a matter for the Trustees not the UK Government.”
“The British Museum is committed to sharing its collection as widely as possible, as one of the leading lenders of objects in the world we lent over 5,000 objects to venues in the UK and internationally last year,” she added.
“The Parthenon Sculptures are legal property of the British Museum. They are free to view, have been on display for over two hundred years, and millions from across the world have seen them”, a Downing Street spokesperson told the Greek daily.
“Decisions relating to their care are taken by the Trustees of the British Museum – free from political interference,” the UK government’s spokesperson told ta nea correspondent.
Mitsotakis told the Observer on Sunday that he would ask the new British prime minister to lend the marbles to Greece as part of its bicentennial celebrations in 2021.
“Given the significance of 2021, I will propose to Boris: ‘As a first move, loan me the sculptures for a certain period of time and I will send you very important artifacts that have never left Greece to be exhibited in the British Museum’,” said the Greek premier.
On Monday evening, the British Museum had hinted that it will consider the Greek request, should it be submitted.
The Greek government came under fire with critics saying that by asking for lending of the Parthenon Marbles, Greece is accepting the British ownership on them.
Culture Minister, Lina Mendoni, told Skai TV on Tuesday morning that “there is no question about the Marble’s ownership.”
She added that it is completely untrue that “we accept that the ownership of the Sculptures belongs to the British.”
“From the moment they were stolen, there is no right whatsoever. The standard position is that Greece not only does not recognize the Sculptors ownership but also their possession” by the British Museum.
She added that the Prime Minister had raised a very clear issue to the British. A loan request in the already existing framework. There is no question about the ownership of the sculptures. We cannot accept the theft, ” the Greek Culture minister stressed.