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The Parthenon Marbles, London, UK: Also known as the Elgin Marbles, are a collection of classical Greek marble sculptures, inscriptions and architectural members that originally were part of the Parthenon and other buildings on the Acropolis of Athens. Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 17991803, had obtained a controversial permission from the Ottoman authorities to remove pieces from the Acropolis. From 1801 to 1812 Elgin's agents removed over half of the surviving sculptures of the Parthenon, as well as architectural members and sculpture from the Propylaea and Erechtheum. The Marbles were transported by sea to Britain. In Britain, the acquisition of the collection was supported by artists and others,while some critics compared Elgin's actions to vandalism or looting. Following a public debate in Parliament and subsequent exoneration of Elgin's actions, the marbles were purchased by the British Government in 1816 and placed on display in the British Museum, where they stand now on view in the purpose-built Duveen Gallery. The legality of the removal has been questioned and the debate continues as to whether the Marbles should remain in the British Museum or be returned to Athens. Sign an online petition to support the return of the Parthenon Marbles to their rightful place in the Parthenon museum in Athens, Greece: http://www.returnthemarbles.com

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