As public awareness of the Monuments Men continues to grow — thanks in no small part to the George Clooney-directed movie opening in February — the National WWII Museum in New Orleans said it will create a new gallery space devoted to the individuals who saved numerous artistic masterpieces from Nazi forces.
The National WWII Museum said its planned Monuments Men gallery is expected to open in 2016 and will be part of the museum’s new Liberation Pavilion.
Clooney’s movie, opening Feb. 7, is based on the bestselling historical book “The Monuments Men,” written by Robert Edsel, who has been on the museum’s Board of Trustees since 2011.
“This gallery will be a journey into the heart of the greatest treasure hunt in history,” Edsel said in a statement released by the museum. “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.”
Museum officials said the new gallery will focus on the recovery of art seized by the Nazis as well as the difficult task of returning the works to their owners. They said the gallery will highlight special wartime measures taken to locate and rescue masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo and hundreds of thousands of other stolen art works.
The work of the Monuments Men came to the public fore late last year when news broke about a stash of art recovered from the Munich apartment of a man who is the son of a prominent Nazi art dealer.
The group of Monument Men consisted of experts from the U.S. and Europe. They included such prominent scholars as James Rorimer, an art expert at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York who would eventually become that museum’s director, and George Stout, a conservator at Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum when the war broke out.
In the movie, Rorimer is played by Matt Damon and Stout is played by Clooney.