The long-term loan could “open the way for a similar agreement with an act of approval by the British Parliament,” said the Acropolis Museum’s director.
In a meeting in London, the Greek Prime Minister reiterated an offer to loan other artworks to the British institution in exchange for the priceless marbles.
To do so before they have returned the Maqdala treasures and the Benin Bronzes and the Easter Island statues and the Maori heads, before a coherent set of precepts for decolonization has been articulated, would affirm the wrong principle.
However we judge Lord Elgin’s original acquisition of the Parthenon sculptures, it’s easy to wonder whether the Turkish rulers legitimately had the right to allow him to dispose of these artworks.
If returned, the sculptures could be reunited after two centuries and settle a longstanding legal feud between Greece and the UK.
The Greek government has decided not to go to court to demand restitution of the Elgin Marbles, which the country has been trying to get back from the British Museum for three decades.
In the past few decades, cultural institutions in the West have increasingly felt pressure to return artifacts acquired through questionable means during the colonial era.
In 2013, UNESCO asked the British Museum to let it mediate a deal between it and the government of Greece, which has been calling for the return of the Elgin Marbles with ever-growing fervor for the past 30 years.