On This Day July 31, 1801: The Rape of the Parthenon Begins

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The rape of the Parthenon began over two centuries ago on July 31, 1801, as Lord Elgin began dismantling the statues that had adorned the temple unviolated for thousands of years.

Elgin, acting on the approval of the Ottoman authorities which occupied Athens at the time, stripped the temple of the statues, known as the Parthenon Marbles.

Today, they are on display in the British Museum in London, while the New Acropolis Museum holds a space for them, in hopes of their eventual repatriation.

Removal of Sculptures from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin’s Men, after 1801, Edward Dodwell and/or Simone Pomardi; watercolor. The Packard Humanities Institute

Removal of Sculptures from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin’s Men, after 1801, Edward Dodwell and/or Simone Pomardi; watercolor. The Packard Humanities Institute

Parthenon Marbles Casts in New York City

On display in the public atrium of Olympic Tower in Manhattan (645 Fifth Avenue) is the Parthenon Marbles Cast Collection of the city College of New York. The collection was acquired in 1852 and was one of the first sets of Parthenon Marbles casts to come to the United States.

Although not complete, the casts served as an important educational function in the university’s art and art history classes for more than a century. In 1992 they were placed in storage, awaiting necessary restoration. In 1999 the Alexander S Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA) provided the necessary funds for the restoration of the casts, which was completed in the summer of 2000.

The casts on display are on the loan from the City College of New York. They are direct copies made from the molds of the original marble sculptures once adorning the Parthenon, the supreme monument of Greek antiquity and one of the greatest symbols of Western civilization.

The Parthenon Marbles Casts in the Atrium of Olympic Tower in New York City

The Parthenon Marbles Casts in the Atrium of Olympic Tower in New York City


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  1. Pingback: On This Day July 31, 1801: The Rape of the Parthenon Begins – D.L. Mavrikakis

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