Historical artefacts could return under new SIC policy

Historical treasures could find their way home to the isles after the council adopted a new museum collections policy at a meeting this morning. 

SICs development committee discussed a proposed policy which would see transparency over the acquisition and disposal of items to and from the Shetland Museum’s collections.

It was said that 98 per cent of the collection – owned by the Shetland Amenity Trust – is in storage. 

But after seconding a proposal to adopt the policy, Lerwick North and Bressay councillor Stephen Leask said that like the disputed Elgin Marbles, Shetland’s treasures could come home.

“Perhaps we can see the repatriation of Shetland treasures,” Mr Leask said. 

The amenity trust’s cultural heritage Jacqui Birnie referenced St Ninian’s treasure – which the Museum and Archives holds replicas of. 

Ms Birnie said there had been support for the return of the treasure from the National Museum of Scotland. 

However, she quipped that the replicas “looked better”. 

The Elgin Marbles – also known as the Parthenon Sculptures – are in the middle of a diplomatic storm between the British and the Greek governments. 

It follows reports in national media that the Greek government want the return of the marbles from the UK.

The Elgin Marbles were reportedly stripped from an ancient acropolis in Athens by a Scots Lord, from which the sculptures got their name.

Lord Elgin took possession of the works in 1801 before selling them to the British government more than a decade later. 

The sculptures are currently in the British Museum.


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