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WEB EXTRA: Neil MacGregor on Returning Artifacts

The Parthenon Sculptures
courtesy of the British Museum
The Parthenon Sculptures

What happens when countries or cultures demand the return of artifacts taken in the past? Some museums, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, have given them back. Others, like the British Museum, have not. By Laura Spencer


Kansas City, MO – For more than 30 years, Greece has been seeking the return of the Elgin Marbles, sections of sculptures from the Parthenon. They were removed in the 19th century by Lord Elgin, a British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.

The British Museum's director Neil MacGregor says the museum was founded on an ideal to "bring to the world things from all over the world." And that with modern means of transportation, "objects can be, over time, in many places." Here, he talks about his views on whether or not to return artifacts.

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