Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos called for the return of the Parthenon marbles from their “murky prison” in a new round of rhetoric for the return of the sculptures that were removed from the Acropolis by Lord Elgin in the early nineteenth century.
Speaking at the New Acropolis Museum, created to house the sculptures, Mr Pavlopoulos upped the rhetoric in Greece’s campaign. “Let the British Museum come here and make the comparison between this museum of light and the murky, if I may say, prison of the British Museum where the Parthenon Marbles are held as trophies,” he said. “This museum can host the Marbles. We are fighting a holy battle for a monument which is unique.”
Lord Elgin removed the 2500-year-old sculptures from the Acropolis temple when Greece was under Ottoman rule. They are currently housed in a room lit by skylight at the British Museum in London, however Greece has repeatedly called for the marbles return since its independence.
In 2009, it opened its new museum at the foot of the Acropolis, where it houses sculptures left behind alongside plaster casts of the missing pieces.
There was no immediate response to Mr Pavlopoulos’ comments from the British Museum that has resisted the repatriation of the marbles, citing legislation preventing it from breaking up collections. In the past, it has argued that it can preserve the items and present them to an international audience.