‘The Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles: A Cultural Imperative’

Nothing can stop an idea when it’s time has come, and now that 80 percent of the British people have agreed in a poll that it is time for the British Museum to give the Parthenon Marbles back to Greece, the process has been set in motion. The decision is up to the British government. The British Museum is the cultural body charged with guarding and exhibiting the «Elgin» Marbles – that is, the Parthenon Marbles, taken down and taken away by Lord Elgin, who was then the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. However, the cause can be helped by the presence of someone with the stature of the president of Greece, Costis Stephanopoulos, a personage who can achieve as much as a dozen exhibitions, petitions and speeches. So the exhibition «The Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles: A Cultural Imperative» which has opened in the foyer of the Athens Concert Hall is particularly important in that Stephanopoulos, the most popular and beloved president of all Greeks, according to opinion polls, honored it with his presence. The exhibition is being held at the initiative of the Melina Mercouri Foundation, the Culture Ministry and the Acropolis Museum Construction Organization. The exhibition was also held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. UNESCO General Director Koichiro Matsuura wrote the prologue to the catalog. UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Marianna Vardinoyianni, who organized the Paris exhibit, also attended the opening in Athens last Tuesday by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos. It is an exhibition that should be seen by all Athenians and which would have given great pleasure to that standard-bearer for the return of the Marbles, the late Melina Mercouri. The foundation that bears her name, and whose president is Mercouri’s husband Jules Dassin, is struggling to see the new Acropolis Museum become a reality.