Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art
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The Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, recipient of the National Humanities Medal, our nation's highest honor for work in the humanities, has three primary objectives. Raising public awareness of the importance of protecting and safeguarding civilization's artistic and cultural treasures from armed conflict is our principle goal. By preserving and utilizing the legacy of the unprecedented and heroic work of the men and women who served in the Monuments, Fine Art, and Archives program, known as "Monuments Men," during World War II, the Foundation informs and inspires others, especially our youth, to think about their role in preserving our shared cultural heritage for future generations. The Foundation's second objective is to capitalize on its world leading role as the expert in all things Monuments Men related, and use its unparalleled research center to provide help to local, national and international students, researchers, scholars, and victims of the greatest theft in history. Finally, the Foundation strives to complete the mission of the Monuments Men by locating and returning to the rightful owners some of the hundreds of thousands of objects sitll missing.
Texas has a very large World War II veteran population. Many of the objects missing since the end of the war were brought home by veterans as souvenirs without understanding the cultural importance. In 2015, the Foundation located three valuable paintings with the son of a veteran in Dallas. It worked with him to confirm the rightful owner and then returned the paintings to the museum in Europe to whom they belonged. The Foundation has also worked closely with museum staff at the Kimbell Art Museum and the Meadows Museum of Art, to correct provenance on four of their most important and valuable works of art that were saved by the Monuments Men.
The Monuments Men Foundation has recently finished filming an original eight-part investigative documentary series titled Hunting Nazi Treasure , which will be broadcast over several months on History Channel Canada in September 2017, and on DISCOVERY'S American Heroes Channel in the United States in March 2018. This program will engage the public, for the first time ever, in the search for some of the hundreds of thousands of cultural treasures missing since the end of World War II and then return them to their rightful owner. A key feature of the program will be prompts for the public to contact the Foundation's toll free line, 1-866-WWII-ART (1-866-994-4278) with information or leads on works of art or other objects, a sort of America's Most Wanted for culture. The Foundation already receives numerous tips, from people in Texas, across the nation, and from nations in Europe, which it then researches and pursues. These calls are certain to dramatically increase once the program airs. The Foundation is seeking financial support for our in-office team of researchers to more promptly respond to a backlog of leads, and those we will soon begin receiving.
The Foundation has had many succesful return stories with strong local connections. In those instances where a specific owner of an object or work of art could not be identified, the Foundation has donated such object to an institution deemed appropriate. Last year, the Foundation donated a Menorah stolen during WWII, and a priceless album of wartime photos documenting the work of the Monuments Men sorting through stolen religious objects and rare books to the Dallas Holocaust Museum. Research is a slow process that requires adequate and patient funding. Yet, it is extremely rewarding because nothing compares to seeing the joy of people and institutions being reunited with something they have been looking for over seventy years.
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