The Parthenon Sculptures at the British Museum, London

Welcome to “Art, Culture & Books” with me Anthony King. Today I’ll be taking you on a video and photographic tour of The Parthenon Sculptures at the British Museum, London. I’ve been lucky enough to visit the Acropolis in person and felt like I was there on the hottest day ever. We will be returning to specific items in this collection at a later date but let’s enjoy this simple overview today.

As always, I take all the photos and videos myself on location, ensuring you get an up-close and personal view of the fascinating world of art and culture. Remember to pause the video to read any longer text in full. I’ll be popping in and out with commentary as this video progresses but for now let’s take a close up look.

Constructed between 447 BC and 432 BC, the Parthenon Sculptures comprise various forms of marble architectural adornments extracted from the temple of Athena, situated on the Acropolis in Athens. This collection encompasses a frieze illustrating the Panathenaic festival procession, metopes depicting the battle between Centaurs and Lapiths, and sculptures of gods and legendary heroes from the temple’s pediments. The British Museum presently houses 15 metopes, 17 pedimental figures, and 247 feet (75 meters) of the original frieze.

The Parthenon, with a diverse history as a temple, church, mosque, and now an archaeological site, has endured substantial damage over the years. Notably, an explosion in 1687, during its use as an ammunition store, reduced it to ruins. Approximately half of the initial architectural embellishments have vanished over centuries, making complete reconstruction or reunion with its sculptural elements impossible.

If we speak to the British museum then it’s been decided that the surviving sculptures are optimally observed and preserved in museums, it is universally accepted that these relics are best suited for display in such institutions, they say. If we speak to Greece, then they’re simply stolen and should be returned to Greece. In 2009, Athens inaugurated the Acropolis Museum to house the remaining sculptures in Greece, offering a comprehensive insight into the ancient history of the Acropolis and its adjacent religious sanctuaries and civic structures.

These remnants of the 5th-century BC Parthenon, symbolize the dominance of Athens during that era. Athens saw the removal of post-Roman structures from the Acropolis, facilitating further archaeological exploration and restoring the site to a state reflective of Greece’s idealized ‘Classical’ past following independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1832. We will see what the future holds.

By Anthony King (c)