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Elgin Marbles statue loaned to Russia

Dr Charlotte Woodhead specialises in the laws surrounding repatriation and restitution from museum collections. She gave her thoughts on the Elgin Marbles being on loan to Russia.

"The trustees of the British Museum are permitted by section 4 of the British Museum Act 1963 to lend objects from their collection, provided that they have given regard (among other things) to the interests of people visiting the museum.

Interestingly the British Museum’s loans policy has recently changed. Until January 2014 there was a strong presumption against lending ‘key objects’ that the viewing public would expect to see on display in London (para 2.2. of the policy). Since January 2014 the test appears more conducive to lending significant works. Now, the trustees simply take into account the reasonable expectations of the viewing public and the rarity or significance of the object when deciding whether to make a loan. Arguably, the Parthenon Marbles would be considered as key objects and in the past there would have been a presumption against lending. Having said that, this is one of the many objects forming the collection of marbles held by the museum, albeit a significant one."

Dr Woodhead is currently abroad and is happy to respond to press enquiries via email and telephone.

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