Recent links of note:
“British Museum proposes new ‘Parthenon partnership’ with Greece in bid to end deadlock over Marbles”
Gareth Harris, The Art Newspaper
The British Museum has recently taken a new tack regarding the controversial ownership of the Parthenon Marbles, popularly known as the Elgin Marbles after their early nineteenth-century purveyor. To the dismay of Greece, however, this new tone only offers the possibility of a “cultural exchange,” not the permanent returning of the looted—as Greece would describe them—marble artifacts. Historically, Greece has shown interest only in regaining full ownership over the marbles, and the British Museum refuses to return objects that they describe as integral to their institution. Greece will likely approach this offer with skepticism. The completion of the state-of-the-art Acropolis Museum in 2009 challenged the British Museum’s refusal to send the marbles back to their home country on the grounds of inadequate housing. As more world-class museums continue to be completed in the countries where these precious artifacts come from, the British Museum and other institutions like it will come face-to-face with the issue of the right to ownership.
“Portrait of tyrant Thomas Picton moved to side room in Welsh museum”
Steven Morris, The Guardian
After over one hundred years on display in the National Museum Cardiff’s Faces of Wales gallery, the portrait of Lt. Gen. Thomas Picton, a fallen hero of the Battle of Waterloo—and a slave trader and tyrannical governor of Trinidad—has been reframed in a new exhibition to acknowledge his more sinister history. Picton’s portrait was originally taken down in response to the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020, which saw a statue of the slave trader Edward Colston thrown in the Bristol harbor. The reframing involves positioning the portrait alongside specially commissioned works by black artists with ties to Trinidad. Although this exhibition provides much-needed clarification on the history of this figure, there is something questionable about the practice of using abstract, “woke” art to do so, deviating from the way a museum would typically approach any exhibition—with artifacts, letters, and other evidence that document Picton’s abhorrent cruelty.
“Bach in town”
Niall Gooch, The Critic
In the twenty-first century, classical music has seen a steep decline in the popular consciousness, with many believing it to be elitist or culturally distant. For instance, during the recent Jubilee celebrations, instead of patriotic tunes like “Rule Britannia,” Niall Gooch writes that his village’s party instead played pop and rock music. Not only has classical music disappeared from the Jubilee, but it has also started to disappear from other cultural mainstays like the Proms, which now includes “popera” and breakdancing music. The traditions of high culture, from classical music to literature and art, are under siege, threatened to be relegated to a distant memory.