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George Osborne is optimistic about the British Museum potentially coming to a mutual understanding with Greece. This agreement would involve the temporary return of the Elgin Marbles in exchange for ancient artifacts that have yet to be displayed in the UK.
During his speech at the annual dinner for the British Museum trustees, the 52-year-old chairman stated that although success is not guaranteed, they believe the effort is worthwhile. The event took place in the Duveen Gallery, which houses the Parthenon sculptures.
For years, Greece has been advocating for the repatriation of the objects that were once displayed on the Parthenon at the Acropolis in Athens.
The nation has asserted for a while that the items were obtained unlawfully during a time of foreign control, but British authorities have continuously rejected requests for their restitution.
During his speech, former chancellor Mr Osborne expressed his desire for an agreement to be reached with Greece.
“The agreement allows for the display of these impressive sculptures in both Athens and London.”
This arrangement permits the display of various treasures from Greece, including some that have remained in the country, at the British Museum.
“As trustees, we seek a partnership with our Greek counterparts that does not require anyone to give up their rights, does not demand modifications to laws that are beyond our control, but instead seeks a practical, realistic, and logical path forward.”
According to Mr. Osborne, the sculptures have consistently sparked debates and disagreements.
“We must not avoid that contentious topic,” he stated. “I believe we have often believed that remaining silent is the best option, but if we refrain from discussing challenging issues, nobody else will.”
Mr. Osborne stated that the museum embraces controversy, as it was revealed that numerous valuable items were taken from their storage over a period of several years, likely by an employee who was trusted by the institution.
He stated that we cannot ignore the fact that it happened, that it is insignificant, or that we were not warned about it years ago.
We were responsible for taking care of these items, but we did not fulfill our duty.
This is the reason we decided to publicize the news of the thefts. It is also the reason why we initiated a comprehensive, unbiased investigation into what caused the problem and how it can be resolved.
“We will be sharing our findings in the next few months, and I have already expressed my apologies for the incident.”
The theft, which gained a lot of attention, brought back the focus on the controversial Elgin Marbles, causing some to question their security within the institution.
At the yearly dinner for trustees, it was revealed that Tracey Emin, a British artist, will be the initial female member of the Royal Academy to join the museum’s board of trustees.
Emin described it as one of the best museums in the world.
I have a great admiration for all things Egyptian. I am honored to serve as a trustee and I hope to make a positive impact with my presence.