|Some of the Parthenon sculptures held by the British Museum|
That the Parthenon Marbles are an 'inalienable' part of the collection clearly shows in the visitor numbers of the British Museum; the museum announced in its annual review that it has had another record-breaking year, with visitor numbers up in 2013 by 20% to 6.7 million, making it the leading UK attraction and the second most visited museum in the world. In addition it had more than 20 million visitors to its website. The museum also tops the list of the world's lending collections. While these numbers wouldn't be guaranteed in Greece, should the marbles be returned, it must leave a sour taste in the mouths of Greek government officials to hear these numbers, and it once more drives home the stakes.
The Parthenon Marbles represent not only a historic investment for Britain, but also a huge potential loss of revenue should they be returned--and seeing as money makes the world go 'round, returning the marbles must be very low on Great Britain's to-do list. Requesting artwork from Greece, however, or even putting more attention on the pieces they already own feels a little like poking the bear.
It's very possible all of this will blow over and nothing will happen, but even if it does, the situation surrounding the Parthenon Marbles seems to be accelerating, and I have no idea in which direction it is heading. All I know is that should I ever visit Great Britain, I'll think twice about visiting the British Museum.