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Italy to return fragment of the Parthenon frieze to Greece

The return to Greece and the Acropolis Museum of a fragment of the Parthenon frieze from Italy is underway, via the process of long-term borrowing, as announced by the Ministry of Culture.

Italy to return fragment of the Parthenon frieze to Greece
This is the left part of the Block VI, which is completed with the plaster copy of the right part, which
is in the British Museum in London. A cast of the Palermo fragment can be seen at the lower left
of the right section [Credit: Acropolis Museum]

The Central Archaeological Council (KAS) approved the long-term borrowing, for 4 plus 4 years, of the fragment of the Block VI of the eastern frieze of the Parthenon (N.I 1546) to the Museum of the Acropolis by the Museo Archeologico Antonino Salinas in Palermo, Italy. The long-term borrowing of the Parthenon fragment will last from December 2021 to December 2025, with the possibility of extension for another four years, from December 2025 to December 2029, as provided by Italian law.

The fragment of Block VI of the eastern frieze of the Parthenon with a height of 0.355 m., Width 0.31 m. and 0.105 m thick, depicts the right foot and the fringes of the dress of the goddess Artemis. It belonged to the collection of Robert Fagan, British Consul in Sicily and Malta, which was purchased by the University of Palermo between 1818-1820. It came under the ownership of the Antonino Salinas Museum in 1836. From 2008 to 2009, through borrowing, the fragment was returned to Greece as part of the "Nosti" exhibition at the Acropolis Museum.

Italy to return fragment of the Parthenon frieze to Greece
The fragment of the eastern frieze of the Parthenon from the Archaeological Museum of Palermo
that is being returned to Greece [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]

Following the positive stance of KAS, the Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni, stated: "This fragment is permanently exhibited in the Museum of Palermo and is the first time that its long-term borrowing in Greece is agreed. This is a process that started a year ago, including a series of negotiations between the Greek and Italian sides. This development may pave the way for the final return of the fragment to its place of birth. According to the Director of the Museo Archeologico Antonino Salinas, the Regional Government of Sicily strongly supports the final return of the Parthenon stone fragment to Greece and he will deliver the relevant proposal to the Committee of the Ministry of Culture of Italy."

As a counter-loan for a corresponding period of time, the KAS also gave its approval for the export and long-term lending to the Museum of Palermo of two ancient objects from the collections of the Acropolis Museum, which are kept in its warehouses. The two ancient objects from the Acropolis Museum will be exhibited successively in the small metropolitan hall of the temples of Selinounta, one every four years, to cover the entire eight-year borrowing period. These are a headless statue of Athena with a height of 0.60 m., dating to between 425-400 BC, which will then be replaced by a protogeometric vase dating to between 1050-900 BC. The duration of the counter-loan is also four plus four years, starting from January 2022 to January 2026, with the possibility of extension from January 2026 until January 2030.

Source: Greek Ministry of Culture [December 01, 2021]

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