Italy has opened a new museum to showcase art it has rescued. The museum, which opened in Rome last week, will present rotating exhibitions of looted and stolen pieces that the nation has recovered.
The Museum of Rescued Art, which is housed within the National Roman Museum in the Baths of Diocletian, launched with an exhibition of 100 artifacts, including a number of important ceramics that had been reclaimed by the country’s “art squad.”All the items were seized in the U.S. and returned last year.
According to Dario Franceschini, Italy’s minister of culture, “Stolen artworks and archaeological artifacts dispersed, sold, or illegally 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. Despite its intrinsic intangible value, rather than being worth safeguarding, protecting and preserving, cultural heritage has often been targeted for 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 enemy country’s identity.”
About 100 of the 260 Etruscan, Greek, and Roman artifacts that have been returned to the country over a period of time are now on display at the Museum of Rescued Art’s first exhibition, located right in the heart of the ancient Baths of Diocletian. Visitors will get to view figurines, statues, urns, and coins, many of which are believed to have been looted by tomb-raiders in the 1980s, before they were smuggled out of Europe.