Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex E

The British Museum's attempt to downgrade Greek competence in conservation projects.

  1.  At the end of November 1999, a British Museum conference was held to consider the damage done to the Parthenon Marbles at the British Museum during the 1930s.

  2.  Although this was not relevant to the main issue, the Deputy Keeper of Greek and Roman antiquities attempted to divert the concerns of the conference by criticising the conservation work done in Athens during the 1950s on another monument, the Temple of Hephaistos. He repeated allegations made in The Times newspaper of 5 November 1999 that Greek restorers had caused damage to the frieze of the Hephaisteion "far worse than the damage caused to the Elgin Marbles by restoration in the 1930s".

  3.  As is well known to the British Museum, the methods of conservation used at the Hephaisteion were a consequence of meetings between experts from the American School of Classical Studies, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Greek Archaeological Service, and the British Museum itself. The work was carried out by the American School of Classical Studies, the cleaning was limited to the removal of black encrustations formed by rainwater salts, and the original surfaces of the frieze were left untouched.

Graham Binns

March 2000

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