Parthenon sculpture loan to Hermitage Museum


When the Hermitage was planning it’s 250th
Birthday party Mikhail Piotrovsky, the director, asked if they could mark this with one great loan from their sister institution
The British Museum and obviously that had to be a very big object
an important one If you want only one thing to have in the
celebration it’s The British Museum If you have only one thing to be shown a real masterpiece of all the masterpieces it will be something from Parthenon The loan was discussed over about two years obviously all great works of art travel incognito
for security reasons and it arrived just a few days ago in St Pertersburg We wanted to choose one of the Parthenon sculptures that spoke of the great ideals not just of
Ancient Athens but of the Enlightenment and that’s why we chose the river god, Ilissos It’s not just a wonderful image of an athletic
young man about to rise it’s also of course reference to river Illisos
just outside Ancient Athens And you can see in the way the drapery turns
into water that this is both a person and a river And Plato tells us that along the banks of
the Illisos Socrates and Phaedrus talked about the morality
of love and the value of beauty and the good society It’s a piece of philosophy as well as a piece
of sculpture What is special about the Hermitage is that
the rooms designed by the German architect Klenze for
the sculpture here are without questions the most beautiful rooms for showing antique sculpture anywhere in
the world We expected that there would be a lot of interest
in the story and there has been this fits exactly into the mission of the
museum which is museum of the world for the world so last year the museum lent some five thousand
objects to some three hundred and forty museums around
the world and around the United Kingdom The strong instinct of the trustees is to
lend this fantastic collection under the right circumstances of conservation
and return that’s what we want to do and so with an issue like the Hermitage says
can we do this? we think about it carefully and we say great
let’s do it It is I think very pleasing because it will
I hope remind everybody of the importance of allowing the public of
the world to see the things that are the shared inheritance
of humanity The great works of art are like the writings
of Shakespeare they belong to everybody and the whole world shares them and they mean different things in different
places and the great works in The British Museum
belong to everybody and that’s also one of the points of this
loan to remind everyone that the people of Russia
have a right to see these objects It’s a great symbol of first relations between
the two museums second the trust which exists between the
cultural institutions and it shows that well I think all the politicians
must look at us how we trust each other how we work how we keep these bridges, cultural bridges
open because in today’s situation this normal museum
exchange is becoming very important it’s such a good will There’s a fantastic gesture of friendship
between museums and we do appreciate it especially coming from Britain, especially
coming from such a time

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