The authorities have decided that the future for the Parthenon on the Acropolis is bleak due to the severe pollution rising up from the expanding city below. The sulphur in the air is eroding the marble and the problem of controlling the use of private cars is considered too difficult to confront. There is now a proposal circulating internationally among architects and architectural historians to dismantle the fifth-century BC temple and move it stone by stone to another site, where it would be erected under a glass roof. Since, however, Athens is unimaginable without its temple, a replica of reconstituted stone would be made to stand in its place. This would just be the latest instance of the trend towards removing great works of art from their proper homes and replacing them with copies: the bronze horses on the façade of St Mark’s basilica in Venice, and the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius on the Capitol in Rome are others. A virtue might be made out of necessity, so there could be an international competition to choose a famous modern architect for the Parthenon’s glass shelter (swooping curves by Gehry, or neo-Bauhaus by Meier...?). The new site for the Parthenon will be chosen on 1 April.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'New site sought for Parthenon'