Pictures. Worth a 1,000 Words? More like 400 euros.

Posted on September 15th, 2010 by

In ‘How Much Does a Picture of the Parthenon Cost?‘, Mary Beard reflects on the prohibitively expensive fees charged by the Acropolis Museum to reproduce pictures of its interior for publication in an academic book.

…I had a nice picture of the frieze as displayed in Athens, taken by the husband, which I wanted to reproduce in my book. My publishers did the proper thing and wrote to the Museum, explaining that we had a picture to reproduce, and asking what  the fee would be .. for black and white, inside image, world rights, with a print run of 7500 (well let’s hope we need more, but that is the current number).

What do you guess it was?

It was 400 euros (plus any costs of transfer to their bank — another £40 or so).

I don’t for a minute imagine that museums should give their intellectual property away for free (though I would be pleased if they did). But 400 euros is surely shooting yourself in the foot.

So how does this compare to the British Museum, you must be wondering. Well,for a start, in the BM visitors can take photographs of the Elgin Marbles (unlike the ban in the Acropolis Museum). If you want to publish them, then the reproductions rights are free up to a print run of 4000, and from 4000-25,000 the cost would be £116 — a lot less than the 400 euros.

I hope that I might have got some of the details of this wrong, but I don’t think so — and there is a moral here. If the Parthenon marbles are a masterpiece of world art, an inheritance of us all, well better order your pictures from the ones in London — whether or not they should be there!


Comments are closed.