For Christmas this year, I got a whole bunch of Parthenon Marbles news. Anyone who frequents this blog knows how happy that makes me. It's my kryptonite, I have such a weakness for anything surrounding it. At first it was because all the attempts to get the marbles back were so obviously doomed to fail that it was almost comical, but I have developed a desire for the Marbles to actually be returned, so while there is still the amusement factor, I do want the outcome to be favorable for Greece now.

Anyway, the news! The glass roof of the Duveen Gallery in London’s British Museum, the room where the Parthenon Sculptures are exhibited, is leaking water following heavy rainfall in the UK capital. On Friday morning IBNA witnessed the drip of water landing only centimetres away from the statue of Iris, in the area of the gallery where marble figures from the Parthenon’s west pediment are located. The floor on that spot was covered in absorbing cloth and yellow signs warned about the slippery floor.

There was no sign of water having landed on the statue of Iris or Amphitrite, also very close by. Indeed the British Museum have stressed that no water has hit the sculptures and no damage has been sustained, admitting the problem. In a statement a spokesperson for the Museum said: 

“There was a minor incident during recent very heavy rainfall when a small amount of water entered the gallery. None of the sculptures was damaged and the issue has been dealt with.”

Prompted to explain why water kept on dripping next to the statue, the Museum spoke of “a small residual leak” and pledged to continue monitoring the situation closely and to address the issue with the roof as urgent. The initial statement added that the Museum

“take our collection care responsibilities very seriously, the preservation of the collection is of fundamental importance to the British Museum.”

The glass roof parts of the gallery looked eroded by time and nature - which may explain the leak- and not only over the west pediment statues. It is worth reminding that one of the constant arguments of the British Museum against calls for the reunification of the Sculptures before the New Acropolis Museum was built was that Athens had no appropriate facilities to host them. Dame Janet Suzman, Chair of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles, issued this statement:

“We hope that the leak is fixed swiftly and that there is no damage to the sculptures. We would continue to urge the British Museum to consider the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles in the Acropolis Museum where they can join their other halves. Let’s celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Acropolis Museum in 2019 with the return of their prodigals. What a fabulous birthday present that would be! How civilised and decent of the British Museum to divest itself of dated strictures belonging to an era - now so over. The time has come to do the right thing. Go British Museum! Do it!”

The news was followed by another bit of news, namely that the UN General Assembly on December 13th,  unanimously adopted, on Greek initiative, a Resolution on 'The return or restitution of cultural property to the countries of origin'. The Resolution in question  which encompasses the return of the Parthenon marbles, was widely endorsed by all regional groups of member states, 105 of which jointly introduced the draft Resolution. Specifically, the resolution underlines the responsibility of States to combat illicit trafficking of cultural property during peace and war time, in light also of recent conflict in the Middle East that led to the destruction, looting, theft as well as illicit trafficking of cultural property, notably through the internet.

The Resolution condemns the aforementioned illegal actions and notes the connection between trafficking of cultural property and financing of terrorism; it calls upon States to safeguard cultural property, by not only taking appropriate protection measures but also returning stolen or illicitly traded cultural property to the countries of origin.

That was an important initiative of Greece that also led the relevant negotiations. The Resolution has been consistently adopted by the General Assembly every three years, our country having systematically introduced the draft Resolution for voting to address the need to safeguard world cultural heritage.