New PM Liz Truss has said she does not support the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum to Greece.
Truss was asked during an interview with GB News if the marbles should be returned to their country of origin, to which Truss said simply: “I don’t support that”.
The stance on the issue is clearer than that of her predecessor Boris Johnson, who had said a decision about their return is one for the British Museum.
In recent months the museum had shown signs that it was considering a possible return to Greece, at least temporarily.
In August Jonathan Williams, the museum’s deputy director, told The Sunday Times Culture magazine that a ‘Parthenon partnership’ could be arranged with Athens.
Williams said: “I firmly believe there is space for a really dynamic and positive conversation within which new ways of working together can be found.”
In June, the chairman of the British Museum George Osborne also seemed to suggest that fresh negotiations would be welcome, and there was a “deal to be done” over the sharing of the Parthenon Marbles with Greece.
The statements were a softening of the museum’s long-held position that the marbles belonged to Britain and could not be safely returned to Greece.
The marbles have become a symbol of the discussion surrounding repatriation, a topic which has leaked into popular culture.
This week, satirical US new show Last Week Tonight dedicated an entire episode to the issue of repatriation of antiquities in Western museums. Host and comedian John Oliver joked during the show “If you are ever looking for a missing artifact, nine times out of ten, it is in the British Museum”.
Image: The Parthenon sculptures, an oblique view of the sculptures from the East Pediment, Acropolis, Athens, 438-432 BC, British Museum (CC BY-SA 2.0 Carole Raddat)