The British Museum will address aging infrastructure in its Greek and Assyrian galleries as part of its Rosetta Project, a vast plan to revamp its display and modernize its building, the Art Newspaper reported Friday.
The BM has not addressed, however, when the renovation of the galleries will begin, the estimated cost of the project, and the fate of the Parthenon Marbles during construction. It has been reported that the museum board of trustees, led by George Osborne, is attempting to raise £1 billion (roughly the same in USD). to finance the Rosetta Project which, if attained, will make this the costliest museum renovation in British history.
The Greek and Assyrian galleries, which includes the Parthenon Gallery and part of the ancient Egyptian collection, is in the oldest block of the museum. Concerns have been raised over the condition of the Parthenon Marbles, a prized set, after images were broadcasted in 2018 on Greek television of water dripping in the Parthenon Gallery.
In August, heavy rainfall in London led to water leaking into the British Museum’s Greek galleries, raising concerns over the safety of the sculpted relief panels and pedimental sculptures taken from the Parthenon in Athens by Lord Elgin in 1801.
This June, Artnet News reported that 15 fans had been placed in the galleries to improve the poor ventilation of the block.
A sign posted in the gallery at the time reportedly read: “The British Museum’s complex, historic site—with parts dating from 1823—requires regular maintenance, renewal, and refurbishment. We are currently carrying out a program of work to maintain the building, protect the collection and improve the visitor experience.”
Reports of ailing infrastructure have fueled calls for the institution to return the sculptures for display in the state-of-the Acropolis Museum, which opened in 2009 in Athens.
For decades, despite pushback from experts and Greek politicians, the U.K. has maintained that it is the rightful owner of the Parthenon Marbles, which are sometimes called the Elgin Marbles. But, in the past year, the museum has signaled a softening in its stance. On June 14, Osborne said in a radio interview that “there was a deal to be done” regarding a possible loan agreement.