OPINION

Appeal for better museum guides

I am a Canadian of Greek origin and a fervent supporter of the return of the Parthenon Marbles to their rightful place in the soon-to-be-completed Acropolis Museum in Athens. I believe that the new Acropolis Museum will adequately address concerns about their safety and appropriate preservation. With the aim of inspiring my daughter to appreciate her Greek heritage and to reimmerse myself in the culture of my ancestors, I have taken her with me on visits to sites of historical importance in Greece and abroad. We have seen the Parthenon Marbles at the British Museum and admired their excellent condition, lighting and the highly informative electronic audio guides that visitors receive. We also visited the National and Acropolis museums in Athens but observed some serious shortcomings, hence my letter to your newspaper. The aforementioned Greek museums provide neither scheduled tours nor audio guides such as those given out in major cultural centers such as the Louvre, the Sistine Chapel and the British Museum. While there were tour guides present at these Greek museums they were only prepared to provide services to groups of 15 or more people. They were not interested, as they told us, in instructing just my daughter and I unless we would undertake to form part of a group, which I found difficult to do. The guides themselves showed no interest in taking the initiative to form such groups themselves. Such lack of electronic audio guides and scheduled organized tours left me and my daughter looking for needles in a haystack, feeling somewhat lost in the myriad of exhibits ranging from the «Boy on a dolphin» and the Poseidon statue to myriad and miniscule rings and necklaces. We felt a strong need for guidance which we found wanting. I have appealed to the chairman of the British Museum, Sir John Boyd, to return the Marbles to their rightful place. But I have also proposed that such a return be subject to conditions agreed in advance to ensure that the Marbles, and hopefully all museum exhibits in Greece, be made available to the viewing public at standards and charges equivalent to those offered by major European museums. These conditions should include the provision of electronic audio guides and scheduled guided tours in major languages. ZISIS HARITOS, Toronto, Canada.