George Clooney’s latest release is about saving cultural artifacts from Nazi looting during World War II.
It’s an amusing romp, guaranteed to appeal to George-fans worldwide but it is based on real events.
When art historians saw Paris fall to the Nazis in World War II, they realized that Europe’s monuments, cathedrals, art and cultural heritage were at risk and the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Programme began mobilising to protect these treasures.
And to coincide with the release of the film, The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC is opening an exhibition detailing the real story.
Maygene Daniels, chief of archives at the National Gallery of Art, explained who is being celebrated in the exhibition: “The Monuments Men were of course real young men – and women – who were in the military. They were real people. We are going to put in the display objects, original photographs, other materials that are intended to bring the story to life.”
As well as photographs, the exhibition includes maps, correspondence and records, including lists of art amassed by Hitler and other Nazi leaders.
Daniels is happy to use the movie to educate people: “So our delight with this film is that it brings the opportunity to give attention to what otherwise sounds like a rather boring and bureaucratic story.”