Italy opens the Museum of Surviving Art, dedicated to the country’s cultural heritage reclaimed abroad

In a triumphant stride towards its efforts to reclaim its cultural heritage, Italy has opened a museum to house the art it has rescued. The museum, which opened in Rome this week, will hold rotating exhibits of looted and stolen pieces the country has recovered.

The Museum of Rescued Art, which is housed within the National Roman Museum in the Baths of Diocletian, opened with an exhibition of 100 artifacts, including a number of important ceramics that had been recovered by the ‘art’ of the country.

All items were seized in the USA and returned within the last year. A new selection of pieces will be presented after the closing of the current exhibition on October 15.

A selection of exhibits at the museum. Plate with two handles with red figures of the production of Puglia with Eros emerging from a flower. About the middle of 4BC. Photo courtesy of Museo Nazionale Romano.

“Stolen works of art and archaeological artefacts illegally dispersed, sold or exported constitute a significant loss to a country’s cultural heritage and the expression of its historical memory and collective values, not to mention the identity of its people,” said Dario Franceschini, Italian Foreign Minister. culture, in a press release.

“Despite its intrinsic intangible value, rather than meriting safeguarding, protection and preservation, cultural heritage has often been the target of illicit trafficking and material destruction. It is no coincidence that during international conflicts, aggressors frequently, intentionally and deliberately damage cultural heritage, striking at the very roots of the identity of the enemy country.

Ceremonial krater with four handles topped with red impasto ceramic cups overpainted in white
7 BC. Photo courtesy of Museo Nazionale Romano

The museum is intended to showcase the success of Italy’s diplomatic efforts to repatriate antiquities from foreign museums and private collections abroad. Italy’s operations to repatriate and protect its cultural heritage include the “Artistic Squad”, the Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage and the “Blue Helmets of Culture”, which work with UNESCO to help recover items after natural disasters and conflicts around the world. .

Last year, Italy negotiated with Greece the return of a stone from the eastern frieze of the Parthenon in exchange for a statue of Athena.

“Protecting and showcasing these riches is both an institutional duty and a moral commitment: we must assume this responsibility towards future generations so that, through these artefacts, they are able to preserve identity values ​​and recognize a common cultural history,” Franceschini said.

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James C. Tibbs