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Pantheon Marble Debate

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Evan Ladley

ART HIST 110

According to the British Museum, they make an exhilarating and impressive museum exhibit, free of charge and keeping them where they are helps bring the world’s cultures together in a secular space to enlarge everyone’s view of the world and promote tolerance and the understanding of differences in the world. According to the Greek Ministry of Culture, the sculptures are not freestanding pieces of art, but rather, architectural and symbolic parts of the temple of Athena. The temple is fully understood only with its sculptures and the sculptures are only meaningful when they’re right next to the temple, in their natural and historical environment.

In my honest opinion, I think the sculptures should just stay where they are in the British Museum. Transporting ancient artifacts like these is always costly and there’s always a chance they’ll end up being damaged along the way. I think it’s generous that they display these pieces of history without fees and to me, artifacts from foreign countries don’t need to bee in their natural setting to be fully appreciated. Take the Obelisk of Luxor for example, the French received it as a gift from diplomatic negotiations with Pasha Muhammed Ali and in exchange received a large clock still in the clock tower of the mosque at the summit of the Citadel in Cairo. It helps bring the people of France together to get a better understanding and appreciation of world cultures just as displaying the marbles in the British museum does for the people of Great Britain. Another fact is that 6 million people visit the Elgin Marbles as opposed to 1.5 million to the Acropolis museum and if the marbles would return to Athens, the number of visitors to the British Museum would drop significantly. They also served as inspirations for notable visitors like John Keats and Auguste Rodin to produce famous works such as The Thinker and On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer. If countries didn’t have pieces of there history anywhere but in the country itself, the world as we know it, would not have so much appreciation for world cultures and artists may not have had as nearly as much inspiration to create new work of art.

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