ROME – Last month, Italian authorities inaugurated a new museum here whose title sets a lofty agenda: Museo dell’Arte Salvata, or Museum of Salvage Art.
Buy now | Our best membership plan now has a special price
Salvaged art is a broad term, it turns out, and the museum will showcase the myriad ways artifacts can be saved — from thieves, from earthquakes and other national disasters, from ancient ships in the Mediterranean or from wreckers. Timed by expert restorers in Italy.
Italian Culture Minister Dario Francesini said at the opening of the museum that it would “show the world the excellence of our work” in all these areas.
But it says that of the museum The first exhibition – which runs until October 15 – focuses on the recovery of looted art and pays tribute to Italy’s crack art theft police squad – the Carabinieri command for the protection of cultural heritage. The unit is credited with returning thousands of art pieces to Italy, effectively “busting the black market. archaic Artifacts,” says a panel on display.
About 100 pieces – Greco-Roman Vases from the 7th to the 3rd century BC and even statues and coins – can be seen in the museum, which is installed in a cavernous hall that was built as part of the Baths of Diocletian and is now attached to the National Rome. Museum.
During their stay Exhibition Here, though, there will be something like a pit stop.
Over the years, the policy of the Italian Ministry of Culture has been one of recovery Artifacts They were likely looted from museums near the site, a process that could, at times, involve difficult cuts given the secretive nature of the excavation.
So, for example, when in 2006 the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston handed over the looted second-century AD marble statue of Vibia Sabina, Hadrian’s wife, it was returned to her villa in Tivoli (although it is on temporary display in Rome these days, exhibited by the Chamber of Commerce).
It will be up to a team of archaeologists and experts to determine where the artifacts in this new museum will be returned.
“I think of it as a Museum of wounded art, because the works exhibited here have been deprived of their finds and their respective contexts,” said Stephan Verger, director of the National Roman Museum, under whose supervision the new museum comes.
The Italian focuses on recovering art and faithfully returning it to its places of origin, no matter how far away, has its detractors. Some say that in a globalized world where efforts are being made to spread culture, solve problems internationally, and overcome economic and social barriers, the return of Western artifacts speaks to an even more vulnerable insistence on the importance of national identity. Others argue that antiques look better in institutions that attract millions of visitors than locally Museums In the outer cities where they are more likely to attract dust than people.
A case in point is the development of an exhibition known as “Nostoi: Recovered Masterpieces”, from the Greek word for homecoming, which was first established in 2007 by Italian cultural authorities as a triumphant recognition of the success of recovering stolen antiquities. . Held at the Italian Presidential Palace in Rome, the exhibition acknowledged Italy’s great success in persuading several American museums to return dozens of objects to Italy, notably New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and California’s J. Paul Getty Museum.
But since 2017, a renewed version of “Nostoi”. Exhibition The Etruscan fortress known as Carrera, about 25 km northwest of Rome, is set in a series of small rooms in a low building in the central square of Cerveteri. The exhibit does not have regular visiting hours, although the Tour Guide Association, which occupies a nearby space, will open rooms upon request.
“We have to rely on volunteers to keep it open,” noted Alessio Pascucci, who was mayor of Cerveteri until last month (he did not run for re-election). However Pascucci hopes that the current museum can become a national institution for repatriated art.
A stone’s throw away is also the precious Euphronius krater, Italy’s greatest prize in the war against antiquities looting. performed In a local setting, where it can be displayed in context and spark local tourism and economy. A sixth-century BC red-figure krater was looted from a Cervetari tomb in 1971 and sold a year later to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for $1 million, an unprecedented sum at the time. The Met abandoned the crater in 2006. After a stint in the Villa Giulia in Rome, it is now a permanent addition to the Archaeological Museum of Cerveteri, along with a kylix, or drinking cup, also by Euphronius, which the Getty Museum returned to Italy. After 1999 evidence of its obscure origins emerged.
Franceschini said the idea of a new museum that would showcase the recovery Antiquities They came to him before returning to their local origins when he gave these two pieces to the Archaeological Museum of Cerveteri in 2014. Instead of returning the pieces to the Villa Giulia, culture officials decided that the two vessels would be better off in the Cervetari, from where the sites are near. They were mined illegally.
Now the krater of Euphronius is “a symbol of the city,” Franceschini said at the opening of the salvage art museum. “We are certain of the paramount importance of returning jobs to where they belong.”
Vincenzo Bellelli, the new director of the Cerveteri Archaeological Park, said it was a “bold decision” and an “enlightened policy to offer local museums new opportunities” to broaden their appeal. “It’s betting on sites of culture,” he said.
In October, after the exhibition Salvage Art Museum Closes, Cerveteri is expected to separate 20 pieces, including a white-on-red pithos decorated with the blindness of Poseidon and Thusa’s giant son Polyphemus. The pithos, or large vessel, is an Etruscan work from the seventh century BC recently recovered from the Getty Museum.
Bellelli said that for now the pithos will be given its own vitrine in the museum alongside the Euphronius pieces.
But like Verger, he said the story of the looting and recovery of these pieces should be merely a footnote in a much more telling tale of the city’s history.
The two vases were made by Euphronius, one of the most famous of ancient Greece the artists, which was discovered in Cerveteri shows the importance of the Etruscan city at the time. “It was a center in ancient times,” a “major market” and a place where ideas traveled, Bellelli said.
“There was a reason why such precious vases were found in the conservatory,” he said.
Until then, though, the returning artifacts will be in the spotlight of a new museum in Rome.
The works now on display were seized by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office from museums, auction houses and private collectors in the United States, acting on evidence provided by the Carabinieri regarding their illegal origins.
In December, 200 pieces were handed over to Italian authorities, a transfer described as the largest single return of relics from the US to Italy. Such an important return was called out for “one Exhibition“said Massimo Osanna, head of the Ministry of Culture’s Directorate for Museums.
“We are already working on new exhibits because we have a lot of interesting material,” he said.
Verger said the recent display “exemplifies the great efforts of the Carabinieri” in Italy’s decades-long crusade to stop antiquities smuggling, as well as the work of Manhattan prosecutors, “which is very important.”
Interpretive panels located within the showcases summarize decades of investigation on the part of the Carabinieri that often led to criminal proceedings and the subsequent return of illegally obtained goods. But there hasn’t been much finger-pointing at the museums and collectors that — inadvertently or not — fueled that black market. For the most part, the dozens of vases and jars and figurines and coins are presented by type and possible principle, not by the collection they’ve been removed from.
It was a conscious choice not to blame.
“The piece has been returned; it has come back,” Verger said. The Exhibition The museum had a kind of “parentheses in the life of the object,” he added. “One phase of illegitimacy is over, and now a new life begins.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
📣 For more lifestyle news, follow us Instagram Twitter | Don’t miss out on Facebook and the latest updates!