British Museum faces legal action over Parthenon Marbles 3D scan refusal


The Oxford-based Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA) is planning to take the British Museum to court over its refusal to allow a 3D reproduction of a piece of the Parthenon marbles in its collection, daily the Guardian reported on Tuesday.

Roger Michel, executive director of UK’s leading heritage preservation organisation IDA told the Guardian that the institute will be filing an injunction “by the end of the week requesting the court to order the British Museum to grant our request.”

The IDA, which has supported demands by Greece for the Parthenon sculptures to be returned by the British Museum, is seeking to reproduce a part of the relief from the temple’s south facade using 3D printing.

“Copies [of the Parthenon sculptures] in the past have been low-quality plaster casts. This will be orders of magnitude better. It will help people see and feel the potential of this technology in ways mere words can’t describe,” Michel told the Guardian.

In a later statement to the Guardian after the IDA’s threat of legal action, a museum spokesperson restated it was not possible to routinely accommodate all requests from “private organisations – such as the IDA – alongside academics and institutions who wish to study the collection”, emphasising how important it was that “any request is properly supported so that, to the best of our ability, we can ensure the highest levels of quality and academic rigour”. It added that it already used cutting-edge technologies to explore and share its collection and had facilitated visits from the Acropolis Museum in 2013 and 2017 for 3D scanning.