The British Museum offered to loan the Elgin Marbles to the Acropolis Museum in exchange for Greece’s recognizing the British Museum’s ownership of the statues. Not surprisingly, the Greek cutlure minister Antonis Samaras rejected the offer.
“This is because accepting it would legalise the snatching of the Marbles and the monument’s carving-up 207 years ago,” Samaras said.
As a strategy, the loan for recognition gambit was an exceptionally poor one on the British Museum’s part. The majority of the British public back returning the marbles. The museum’s fig leaf was the lack of an adequate facility. But with a new museum built in Athens, the British Museum should be proposing the opposite: a return of the marbles in exchange for periodic loans.
No one seriously believes the British Museum has a reason to hold on to the Elgin marbles and the rejected offer only confirms that.