One can only appreciate a historical artifact within its own historical context, that is the place where it was built, found or intended to be. Take, for example, the Elgin Marbles, which were originally designed as marble panels and sculptures located in the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. The Elgin Marbles are now housed in a dark tunnel of a room in the British Museum in London, England, 2,000 miles away from their original setting. To truly appreciate the Elgin Marbles, they need to be viewed not as fragmented pieces in a museum, but appreciated as an integral part of the design and overall structure of the Parthenon of the Acropolis. Cultural artifacts should be returned to their country of origin because they were produced and enriched there and they reflect the cultural values and heritage of that country.
One of the many arguments that support the opposing side to the debate is as follows: if an artifact is housed in a major city in the world, it is much more accessible to the general public. What is left out in this statement is that it is accessible only to those that have the money to purchase travel expenses; therefore, not easily accessible to those who live in the places where these artifacts originated. The majority of these artifacts are located in large, cosmopolitan western European cities such as London and Paris, hidden from these historically important, yet currently less prosperous countries. If someone is located in a country such as Egypt, which has a Gross Domestic Product of $6,700 per person (subscript 1), that person simply cannot afford an expensive trip to a foreign city to view an artifact from their own cultural history. If these artifacts were returned to the country of origin respectfully, that country would be more inclined to share their artifacts with cities around the world through a loan program, resulting in major artifacts still in big cities, just not permanently. Take, for example, King Tut and his exhibit, which...
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