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Losing our marbles the debate over the restitution of cultural property

Dr Daniel Butt and Dr Zofia Stemplowska | Department of Politics and International Relations

Museums world over are full of artefacts whose routes into the collections are at least controversial: from acquisitions of stolen property to holdings obtained from those whose title to them is disputed. Daniel Butt and Zofia Stemplowska will discuss the moral principles that should guide museums' decisions as to whether to hang on to such artefacts or return them to others. They will discuss, among others, the case of the so-called Elgin Marbles at the British Museum and the case of Mozart Manuscripts at the Jagiellonian Library in Kraków. The Elgin marbles contain a large collection of sculptures from the Greek Parthenon. In the 19th century, they were acquired by the British government from Lord Elgin and passed to the British Museum, but Lord Elgin's own title to the collection was questionable and known to be so at the time. Should the marbles be returned to Greece? The Mozart Manuscripts are part of the Prussian State Library which contains also the manuscripts of Bach, Beethoven and Goethe. They were hidden in occupied Poland by the Germans during the Second World War and were found on Polish territory after Poland's liberation. Should the manuscripts be returned to Germany?

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Department of Politics and International Relations

Dr Daniel Butt

Dr Zofia Stemplowska

Twitter: @danbutt@Politics_Oxford

 

Event supporters

We are grateful to the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for their support through the University of Oxford’s ESRC Impact Acceleration Account.

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