War and Art: The Preservation of Italian Treasures is the result of a joint effort by the Embassy of Italy in Washington, D.C., the Museo Centrale del Risorgimento in Rome, the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, and the Woodrow Wilson House in Washington, D.C.. All joined forces to ensure that the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War is not forgotten.
On July 27, 2014 the Embassy of Italy remembered the last day of peace before the tragedy of WWI with a touching ceremony.
At Arlington National Cemetery, a trumpeter played the moving notes of our “The Silence” – our equivalent of “Taps” in the US, and traditionally performed when bidding farewell to the fallen – while musicians in other cities throughout the world simultaneously did the same.
To fully understand such a world-changing event as the Great War is to ensure and preserve peace and democracy today. In addition, its comprehension enables us to reconcile our legitimate pride in our national identities with the deep awareness of being citizens of the world.
This photographic exhibition, based on images from the Museo del Risorgimento’s archive, highlights the ravages that war can wreak not only on human beings, but also on what should be the inviolate beauty of art. This exhibit represents a unique opportunity to recapture and gain more insight into a significant part of our history. The specific focus on preserving cultural heritage provides a first-hand cultural and historical perspective of the conflict, as well as of the broader Italian framework.
It was also thanks to the vital support of the US that Italy was able to preserve most of its artistic treasures – and thus of its identity – from ruthless annihilation. This was in some ways the precursor of a tradition that was later embodied by the notable Monuments Men during the Second World War.