Museum severs Marbles talks

LONDON (AP) – The British Museum’s Elgin Collection of sculptures from the Parthenon should never be returned to their original home in Greece, the museum’s director was quoted as saying yesterday. «I do not believe there is a case for returning the marbles,» Museum Director Neil MacGregor said, according to the Sunday Telegraph newspaper. «They have a purpose here because this is where they can do most good… The British Museum can situate the achievements of these Greek sculptures in the context of the wider ancient world.» Asked if he thought the fifth-century-BC works should never return to Greece, he said: «Yes.» MacGregor has previously said that the marbles are so important to the British Museum’s collection that they can never be removed, even on loan. MacGregor, who took the helm of the museum last August, said he had broken off talks with the British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles, which wants to see the sculptures returned to Greece. Greece has long sought, and Britain long resisted, the return of the antiquities, a 160-meter frieze from the Parthenon. The British Museum acquired the marbles in 1811 from Lord Elgin, British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. The Greek government wants the pieces returned in time for the 2004 Olympic Games and proposes to build a new Acropolis gallery where the treasures could be displayed – on permanent loan – near the building they originally adorned. MacGregor was quoted as saying Greece should accept a computer-generated image of what the sculptures would look like in their original home. «The Parthenon can never be reconstructed, so let’s try and put together what’s left of it virtually,» MacGregor was quoted as saying.