Published  04/03/2003

Elgin blow to the Acropolis

'Treasure' Neil MacGregor, also the safest and most inspired pair of hands in the world of National Museums and Galleries, has finally decided to put the foot down on the peripatetic speculation about the Elgin Marbles. This dashes any possible effort from Athens to secure the sculptures for exhibition at the time of the 2004 Olympics. MacGregor has astutely stolen a technological march by proposing that a computerised version could be generated to set the marbles in their built context for the delight of tourists to Athens — an idea which has gone down like a lead balloon back there. Fortunately, the idea emanated from the British Museum that there could be some sort of 'swap' between London and Athens, involving temporary displays of classical works in exchange for the marbles has also died a natural death.

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