This decades-old question has new urgency, thanks to the stunningly-beautiful new museum in Athens dedicated to the Acropolis. Something is missing, say the Greeks (www.culture.gr). Not so, say the English (www.britishmuseum.org).
In the British Museum, so the argument goes, you can see the sculptures close up and personal, and millions upon millions have had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with one of the great architectural monuments of all time, without a trip to Athens.
And, after all, who knows what may have happened to these great works in those dangerous times, two centuries ago, when what is now Greece was part of the Ottoman Empire – had not Lord Elgin stepped in?
And then, in the label, a more suble thought is expressed, that in effect makes didactic allies of the old British Museum and the New Acropolis Museum.
If you were a Trustee of the British Museum, how would you vote?