Italy sets precedent with permanent return of Parthenon ‘Fagan fragment’

Italy sets precedent with permanent return of Parthenon ‘Fagan fragment’

The “Fagan fragment” from the Antonino Salinas Museum in Palermo, which returned to Greece in January to be exhibited at Athens’ Acropolis Museum for eight years, will now remain permanently in the museum, a joint statement from the Culture Ministry and the Regional Government of Sicily said on Friday.

According to the Culture Ministry, the regional government in Sicily received the green light from the national authorities in Italy to to permanently return the fragment. Formal approval is expected soon.

“The procedure followed the Government of Sicily and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Italy for the final repatriation to Athens of the Fagan fragment paves the clear and moral way for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures to Athens,” said Culture Minister Lina Mendoni.

The 35-by-31-centimetre fragment depicts the foot of the goddess Artemis, peeking out from a beautifully crafted tunic. It was taken from the eastern frieze of the Parthenon, which depicts the gods of Olympus seated as they observe the delivery of the veil to Athena.

It was once part of the collection of Robert Fagan, a former British consul for Sicily and Malta. In exchange, the Acropolis Museum will send to Sicily, for four years, a headless statue of Athena from the end of the 5th century BC and an amphora from the first half of the 8th century BC.

The deal makes Sicily a trailblazer regarding Greece’s struggle to repatriate the Parthenon Sculptures from the British Museum to Greece.

On Wednesday, UNESCO confirmed that Greece and the United Kingdom agreed to hold formal talks that may pave the way for the return of the Parthenon sculptures that are currently on display at the British Museum in London.

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