March 14, 2012

A classic case of cultural patrimony in dispute: The Elgin/Parthenon Marbles

Who Draws the Borders of Culture? New York Times, May 5, 2010

In this article, Michael Kimmelman, architecture critic for The New York Times, describes what can be called the" type speciman" for disputed cultural patrimony: the case of the Elgin Marbles. Though Kimmelman ultimately supports the British Museum's position that the ancient Greek artworks should be owned by posterity, he covers the arguments presented in Greece's campaign for their return. The story of these sculptures and friezes acts as a survey of the key issues of cultural patrimony and provides a sense of the complex national, economic and moral issues involved. That the Marbles have inspired impassioned outcry beginning with their removal by Lord ElginĀ  from the Parthenon to England in the early 1800s further reinforces cultural heritage as a "work in progress" for us all.