Sunday, 12 February 2012

The Progress of Civilisation

As a museum professional/geek I obviously have my favourites in London. And while most of the time I can name those really obscure and wonderful collections that no-one has heard of and everyone is interested in, without fail my heart always comes back to the British Museum. This is a wonderful museum, just the architecture itself is interesting enough let alone the treasures that it holds inside. The best thing about this museum is that no matter how many times you've been and how many things you've seen, there's always more yet to discover. Kind of like London really.

For me this happens often as I find myself back in the Parthenon galleries every visit. These beautiful marble pieces are exquisite. I love looking at them and we're so lucky to have them here. Note that I haven't called them the Elgin Marbles. Their residence here in the UK is much contested with even the Greek's building the Acropolis Museum equipped with their own Parthenon Gallery (complete with digital versions of the pieces here) to counteract the age-old argument that they were unable to care for the pieces.

Now I'm not completely sure that they got here in the most legitimate way possible (sorry BM...) however I also don't believe that they should go back to Greece (sorry Acropolis...). But let's face it, if they went back it would be the start of a worldwide scramble to gain back pieces in foreign collections. All countries have worldwide collections, the British Museum just happens to have one of the best, hence it garners so much attention. But rather than get embroiled in the politics of right and wrong one should remember the main point which is this: the collection is one of the best in the world, and it's here on our doorstep. If you haven't yet, go and have a look, it's truly amazing.

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