Greece is making last minute preparations to open the gates of the long-awaited Acropolis Museum. Dignitaries from around the world will attend the ceremony at the foot of the Acropolis, the epitome of the Golden Age of Athens.
But the proceedings are likely to be overshadowed by the continuing row over Britain’s ownership of the Classical Parthenon sculptures. Replicas of the Elgin Marbles will be on display in the new museum – a quiet protest Greek’s Culture Minister hopes will help the country recover the originals. “For someone who will follow these 160 metres of the frieze around the museum, as they are on the Parthenon, they’ll realise that in essence it will be a constant, silent denunciation,” says Antonias Samaras. However the British Museum is standing firm over the marbles removed in 1806 by Lord Elgin, then British ambassador to the Ottoman empire. Its spokeswoman, Hannah Boulton, says they are now part of the world’s cultural heritage. “They’re not talking about putting them back on the Acropolis. These are not objects, these are not sculptures that can be re-applied to the building. They are now museum objects – objects of world art,” she says. “There’s no problem in terms of them being divided between two different museums and telling two different, but complimentary stories.”