Controversy

New Acropolis Museum to open, end 'Elgin Marbles' debate

Later this month in Athens, the Bernard Tschumi-designed New Acropolis Museum will open—and perhaps settle a centuries-old property battle over the so-called “Elgin Marbles.” Ever since a British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire named Lord Elgin chiseled away several marble stones from the Parthenon and sold them to the British government in 1816, the argument has ensued between the Greeks and the British over the so-called Elgin marbles over who can claim custody to the fabled stones. Conveniently, the New Acropolis Museum’s top floor, which sits in the shadow of the Parthenon, will hold all of the Parthenon’s surviving sculptures in their original configuration. Places for the stones that currently reside in the British Museum have been laid out in white plaster, patiently awaiting their return. Trustees at the British Museum said they’d consider lending the stones to the New Acropolis Museum, provided that they recognize the British as being the stones’ rightful owners. Museum president Demitrios Pandermalis hopes the museums can compromise by lending one another coveted artworks simultaneously. "It's not easy," he said. "But let's find a solution for both sides."