Leaking roof delays reopening of the British Museum’s Parthenon gallery

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Water seeping into the British Museum’s Greek galleries from a leaky roof has delayed their reopening.

According to The Art Newspaper, seven galleries of Greek art, including the museum’s display of Parthenon sculptures, were expected to reopen to the public at the end of July following a seven-month closure.

But museum sources say this was pushed back after heavy rainfall on July 25 caused flooding in central London and led to water leaking into one of the museum’s Greek galleries.

Left: The Art Newspaper took this picture of the stained roof in the Parthenon sculptures gallery in January 2020. Right: Figures from the pediment of the ancient temple in the British Museum.

“There was some water ingress in one of the [Greek] galleries” in July, a British Museum spokeswoman confirmed to The Art Newspaper. She could not identify the specific gallery and could not say when the displays might reopen.

The poor state of the rooms housing the museum’s Greek and Assyrian treasures has been noted many times before.

In 2018, Greek television broadcast images of water dripping into the gallery housing the frieze, sculpted relief panels (metopes) and pedimental sculptures removed from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century.

The Art Newspaper also spotted a fan in the middle of the gallery in August this year which, according to them, suggests a humidity problem, possibly caused by the leaking roof.

The British Museum is currently trying to overhaul all of its galleries.

Under its director Hartwig Fischer, who was appointed in 2016, the British Museum is drawing up a comprehensive masterplan which will overhaul all of its galleries and redisplay all of its collections but this is likely to take many years, if not decades, to implement.

The Greek galleries were last open to the public in December 2020. On 16 December 2020, the museum closed to comply with a national COVID-19 lockdown.

It reopened five months later, on 17 May 2021, but routine maintenance work on the Greek galleries continued and they remained closed.

Source: The Art Newspaper.

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