The Getty Iris
By Alexandria Sivak
May 30, 2013
Telling the story of Allied efforts to save art in Europe during World War II is Robert Edsel’s life’s work. His focus now is the adventures of the “Monuments Men,” professors and scholars who raced to discover the location of billions of dollars of missing artwork taken from the great museums in Florence and Naples. On June 2, Edsel will be at the Getty Center to talk about his new book Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation’s Treasures from the Nazis, which is part history, part rip-roaring drama.
I asked Robert about the Monuments Men and how their efforts saved treasured art from across Europe.
What makes the story of the Monuments Men so intriguing?
Because it seems difficult to believe that such an epic story about World War II could have been hidden right in front of us, 68 years after the end of the most destructive war in history! Few people know the story of how this small group of ordinary men and women—museum professionals, educators, architects, and artists—saved so much of the art and culture of western civilization from the destruction of war, and then served as art detectives in locating and saving millions of objects stolen by the Nazis.