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 Thursday, 2 January, 2003, 17:38 GMT
Elgin Marbles make 'virtual' return
Elgin Marbles
The exhibition will show pieces reunited
The return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece has been simulated in a virtual reality exhibition, showing how the Parthenon treasures would look if they went back to Athens.


The virtual exhibition was first presented to the UK during a recent visit by Greek culture minister Evangelos Venizelos.

The Marbles are displayed in London's British Museum, but the Greek Government and a number of British MPs and celebrities are campaigning for the artefacts to be returned.

Elgin Marbles
Works of art of this level belong to humanity

Neil MacGregor, British Museum

The Greek Government is building a 29m museum to display the marbles, which they hope to complete in time for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

The marbles, ancient sculptures which once adorned the Parthenon in Athens, have been held in the British Museum since 1811.

Neil MacGregor, who took over as director at the British Museum in July 2002, said the marbles should remain in Britain because they could never be reunited properly.

"Because the Parthenon is now a ruin the best use that the world can now make of these sculptures is for them to be here in London in context of these others great works," he told BBC Radio 4's Front Row.

Mr MacGregor said he understood that Greece wanted great Greek works of art to be returned.

'Disturbing'

"But there are many Greeks who understand the value of having great Greek works of art outside Greece," he said.

"Works of art of this level belong to humanity. The context of a universal museum is one that is of great value."

He said it was "very disturbing", "anti-world" and "worryingly nationalistic" of countries who wanted to reclaim what they had made.

Richard Allan MP, a former archaeological student who heads a British campaign to return the marbles, said: "We want to see the marbles together in a museum that has been purpose-built for the Parthenon Marbles. It will be half-empty without them."

The display includes a computer-simulated walk through the museum showing the reunited marbles displayed in glass cases.

The exhibition has been organised by the British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles and will be held in the Houses of Parliament on 27 January.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  British Museum director Neil McGregor
gives the BBC's Front Row programme his view on the marbles
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