The exhibition entitled: The Unity of a Unique Monument: the Parthenon was held with the initiative of Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, on April 2003, in Paris. It was an event of great cultural and national importance since it was the first time that such an important international organization, like UNESCO, highlighted this important issue for Greeks and the whole modern civilization, which is the unification of the Parthenon sculptures and the cultural importance of the Parthenon as a whole.
The exhibition was organised by the Melina Merkouri Foundation and the Foundation for the Child and the Family in cooperation with UNESCO and with the support of the Greek Ministry of Culture, and included a series of photos of the Parthenon sculptures, which today are divided between the Acropolis Museum and the British National Museum, as they will look after their unification in the Acropolis Museum.
During the inauguration ceremony that took place on Friday, 4rth of April 2003, the UNESCO Director-General, Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, stressed: I deeply appreciate the initiative, which was undertaken by Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis to organize this exhibition. I am fully aware of her enthusiasm and dedication in art, in general. I am very pleased that UNESCO hosted this exhibition on the unification of the Parthenon sculptures and I want to point out that UNESCO is ready to help finding creative solutions in order to solve the differences between Greece and Great Britain, to the benefit of this great cultural heritage of humankind, the Parthenon. Moreover, Mr. Matsuura referred to his visit in Acropolis, two years ago, following an invitation by Mrs. Vardinoyannis and reiterated the commitment he took then, to seek a solution on the issue of the Parthenon sculptures.
The President of the Melina Merkouri Foundation, Mr. Jules Dassin spoke immediately after, as well as the Greek permanent representative in UNESCO, Amb. Vassilis Vassilikos, Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, and the Goodwill Ambassador, Mr. Jean Michel Jarre, who was among the first ones who signed the appeal for the return of the Parthenon sculptures, which was drawn up in the summer 2000 on the initiative of Mrs. Vardinoyannis and Mr. Jules Dassin.
During the opening ceremony, Mrs. Vardinoyannis stressed in her speech: In an era where violence in every form prevails all over the world, moderation and total harmony become ever more the ultimate values of civilization, as the ideal attitude of life towards a peace culture. The Parthenon constitutes precisely the expression of the moderation and total harmony. The symbol of democracy and freedom. That is why I feel that through this exhibition on the Parthenon marbles and especially, through UNESCO, whose symbol is rightly the Parthenon and the its values, we have the unique opportunity to send to the whole world a message which is ancient and modern at the same time: respect among the peoples. This is the only message which can lead to a world of moderation and balance, a world of world harmony and peace.
When Mr. Jules Dassin took the floor, he stressed full of emotion: I would like to thank for this exhibition UNESCO, my dear friend Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, a real lady who gives part of herself to every noble aim. It was her initiative and I thank her a lot. This exhibition is of great importance because it points out a big moral, ideological and cultural mistake. Those who will visit the exhibition will understand why no comments are necessary. It shows that one part of the monument is placed in Greece and the other one in Great Britain.
Finally, Mr. Jean Michel Jarre, pointed out in his speech: Two years ago, I organized a concert under the Acropolis in cooperation with Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis hoping that I would turn the interest of the public opinion to the unification of the Parthenon sculptures, because this unique monument is a very particular case. It is not merely a monument being exposed to a museum, but one, which is divided in two parts. In other words, it is a divided monument which, one day, should be reunited.
The numerous guests and personalities from all over the world, who attended the opening of the exhibition, expressed their enthusiasm about it. Among the guests there were also: the 180 permanent representatives, Ambassadors of UNESCO member states, such as the permanent representative of the U.K. to UNESCO, Amb. David-Leslie Stanton, many Academicians, the Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Center, Mr. Francesco Bandarin, the Italian actress Valentina Cortese, the President of UNESCO Executive Council, Mrs. Aziza Benani, the French intellectual and President of the European Research University, Mr. Jean-Pierre Faye, the deputy of the European Parliament Mrs. Rodi Kratsas, Mr. Jacques Ahrweiler, etc.
The exhibition was opened to the public until the 18th of April 2003.