Much has been made in the last while about the loan of the Ilissus statue from the British Museum to the Hermitage in Putin’s St Petersburg. But relatively little coverage has been given to a number of loans from 21 Greek museums for a series of shows across North America over the next year. The exhibition The Greeks – Agamemnon to Alexander the Great began last week at Montreal’s Pointe-à-Callière museum with over 500 artefacts from Greek collections, including a number that have never before been seen outside of Greece. The artefacts will then travel to the Canadian Museum of History near Ottawa, Chicago’s Field Museum and Washington DC’s National Geographic Museum.
This shows an openness on the part of the Greeks to share some of their great antiquities with the world. As the Greek Foreign Minister stated, the tour could be part of a “perpetual loan” of many antiquities beyond Greece’s borders. Perhaps it will also mark the beginning of a diplomatic battle – done through the loaning of cultural property – between the Greeks and their ‘opponents’ at the British Museum.