Long-term advocate of the return of the Parthenon or Elgin Marbles to Greece, archaeologist and art historian Anna Marangou has welcomed the attention a casual comment by Hollywood star George Clooney has brought to the cause.
In Berlin, while promoting his new movie The Monuments Men – based on the second world war platoon which rescued and returned thousands of artworks stolen by the Nazis – Clooney said it would be "very nice" if the marbles went back to Greece.
In London, the question was put to him again. "I did a little research just to make sure I wasn't completely out of my mind," he said.
Slipping up on pronunciation, he added: "Even in England the polling is in favour of returning the marbles from the Pantheon [sic], the Pantheon marbles."
Clooney said the Vatican and LA’s Getty museum had returned parts of the Parthenon and suggested the question was whether a piece of broken-up art should be put back together.
In this case returning them was "probably the right thing to do".
Prestigious UK newspaper The Guardian has also held an online poll, which found that some 88% of respondents had said they agreed the marbles be returned to Greece.
Part of the Cyprus Committee for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles and having recently spoken at the Parthenon Marbles Colloquy Sydney 2013, Marangou told The Cyprus Daily that although a lot of work was continuously being carried out on many levels, Clooney’s comments were appreciated with the hope that even more stars would add their voice.
“A lot of work is being carried out. We have studied the British Museum’s website pinpointing inaccuracies in its text on the artefacts,” Marangou said.
Marangou also revealed that during the Colloquy, participants had learned more about mobile device applications (apps) being developed allowing visitors to the British Museum to here the full story behind the marbles.
“There was also an in impressive display where an artist packed 300 boxes representing the return of the friezes to Greece,” she added. The work, ‘Consignment,’ was by artist Andrew Arnaoutopoulos.
Marangou said that the Greek government had asked UNESCO to mediate a process for the UK’s return of the marbles but that there had not been an official response as yet.
She also noted that specialised committees including lawyers were also continuing litigation and other action for the marbles’ return.
Marangou however said that the attention garnered by Clooney’s comments, including the resulting poll by The Guardian and the British newspaper’s response to London Mayor’s Boris Johnson’s objections were a welcome addition to the efforts: “We’d welcome others in Hollywood to do the same.”