AKA the Elgin Marbles. All my life it seems as if we haven’t been talking to Greece about sending them home. Recently, there was a strong dismissal of any such hope. But today, I read that the British Museum is open to discussion. Statements from the Deputy Jonathan Williams and even the Chairman, ex Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, have expressed optimism that there is a ‘deal to be done’.
Reading between the lines, the position appears to be based on the ‘fact’ that we own them legally, and that, by discussion of mutual loan arrangements, some, if not all, of the stones, can go home on loan, in exchange for other loans from Greece coming to the UK.
Nearly, all ‘restitution’ cases are settled by the realisation that there are mutual benefits to be had for the return of items. The Horniman is leading the way with its announcement to return 72 Benin Bronzes to Nigeria.
The statement from Nigeria suggests that mutual loans are a part of the deal here too.
Abba Tijani, director-general of Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), said: “We very much welcome this decision by the trustees of the Horniman Museum & Gardens. Following the endorsement by the Charity Commission, we look forward to a productive discussion on loan agreements and collaborations between the NCMM and the Horniman.”