Saturday, December 13, 2008

Curator as Indiana Jones


I was watching this doco last night on SBS (yep, it's a 2 parter too!) about Hitler's museum. It talked about how he employed a previous gallery/museum director to search for and make a list of all the most amazing artworks in the world that they would then buy for the museum in Hitlers name. I think this was back in the late 1930s.

Then as we all know, war breaks out and instead of buying these amazing artworks, the Nazis decide that they can just take whatever they want for this 'super gallery'. Except they didn't plan on some of the most clever and cunning of gallery curators to tear the works from their frames, crate them up and hide them all over Europe! There was a story of the Louvre packing all of their most culturally valuable works up and taking them to a unused castle in the south of France. They had to find a building that had huge windows and doors so they could get some of the huge sculptures and monuments in. They travelled by night with the works so they wouldn't be found. The most amusing part was that the curator of paintings was in the truck with the works with their most prized work on his lap - the Mona Lisa.

This was something that I hadn't really thought about, I knew about the looting of works by the Nazi's during that time and how difficult it has been to find all the works taken and return them to their rightful owners. I thought it was fantastic, the lengths these curators went to to keep these significant works out of the Nazi's hands! It was a very Indiana Jones, except of saying "this belongs in a museum", they were moving them out of the museum and hiding them for safety.

Can't wait to see the second part of the series, though it did give me weird Nazi dreams last night... very bizarre.

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