As reported in the LA Times, movie stars George Clooney, Bill Murray and Matt Damon recently made statements around the launch of their movie “Monuments Men” that the British Museum should return the Elgin Marbles back to Greece.
But what, you say, would that mean for all the Egyptian stuff at the Louvre that was carted off by Napoleon at around the same time? Damon reasonably dismisses British protests that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about because he’s an American, but cultural patrimony is not a black-and-white issue. The argument can be made that cultural property laws restrict international trade in antiquities, and that if they had always existed, the world’s great border-crossing encyclopedic museums wouldn’t be nearly so great, or so border-crossing. So what’s more important, George et al.: stewardship, or ownership?
also by Glasstire
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