NEW ORLEANS (January 23, 2014) — The story of the men and women who saved cultural treasures from Nazi destruction will be featured in a major gallery inside The National WWII Museum’s upcoming Liberation Pavilion.
Known collectively as "The Monuments Men," these museum curators and art experts from 13 nations are also the subject of a major motion picture to be released February 7, 2014. Starring Matt Damon, George Clooney and Cate Blanchett, The Monuments Men is based on the best-selling non-fiction book by Museum Board of Trustees member Robert Edsel.
"This gallery will be a journey into the heart of the greatest treasure hunt in history," said Edsel. "I couldn't be more proud than to have it at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, the official WWII museum of the United States and a world-class institution." Edsel has been an active member of the Museum’s Board of Trustees since 2010, and the exhibit has been in development since 2011.
The gallery will allow visitors to expand their knowledge through an immersive experience that brings the missions of these previously unsung heroes to life. Scheduled to open in 2016, the gallery will lead visitors on a journey with the Monuments Men as they make their way through an Austrian salt mine to recover priceless works of art. The gallery will also highlight special wartime measures taken to locate and rescue masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo and hundreds of thousands of other stolen art pieces.
The recovery of looted artwork is just the first part of the story. The exhibit will also focus on the difficult job of returning these priceless works to their rightful owners. The Monuments Men dedicated six years to this task, work that continues today through the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art.
"The story of what these men and women contributed has finally seen the light of day due to Robert Edsel’s tireless efforts," said Museum President and CEO Gordon "Nick" Mueller. "It is only fitting that this story has a permanent place in the Liberation Pavilion to illustrate that Allied Victory meant the liberation of the art of Western civilization as well as of people and nations. Future generations will continue to benefit from the work of the Monuments Men."
The Monuments Men Gallery was made possible through a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Robert Tucker Hayes. Mr. Hayes has been a member of The National WWII Museum’s Board of Trustees since 2009. Additional support for the gallery was provided by Robert M. Edsel and Deborah G. Lindsay, a Museum Trustee since 2011.
The Liberation Pavilion will explore the closing months of the war and the immediate postwar years. Visitors will also learn how those events continue to shape the modern world in the areas of science, technology, human and civil rights and the advance of democracy. Employing the latest technology, this final exhibit pavilion of the Museum campus will convey the deeper meaning of what was at stake for America and the world in this epic conflict.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world — why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-527-6012 or visit www.nationalww2museum.org. Follow us on Twitter at WWIImuseum or visit our Facebook fan page.