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Monday, September 7, 2015

The Lost Museum

Mr FS and I visited Berlin for the first time this summer. Because of my family's lucky escape from Austria in 1938 and because so many people I knew in childhood and beyond had lost relatives to the Holocaust, I was apprehensive. As it happened, I loved Berlin. We stayed in a now trendy area of the former East Berlin.

As usual, we got a museum card, in this case, a 3-day pass. All the museums are fairly small and several are clustered in "Museum Island." So we saw the must-sees--like Nefertiti--and then checked out some of the less visited exhibits.

One that intrigued me was at the Bode Museum: "The Lost  Museum." The exhibit consisted of full-size black and white photos of lost art works. Some were simply lost. Others were taken by Allied forces. Most taken by the Russian forces still have not been returned. Many works were stored for safekeeping and then were destroyed in a fire.  This last is, of course, ironic in the extreme, given the manner of death of so many people during the war. Here is an interesting essay on the exhibit from the Wall Street Journal.

The exhibit was almost empty. It was very moving. And, of course, the lost people are never far from one's mind.

In the lounge, we perused a catalog of the exhibit, which included many works not on display. I took a special look to see if there were any Veronese paintings among the lost. Indeed, there were.

Why did I look at Veronese?

Almost thirty years ago, when I was studying art in Chicago courtesy of the National Endowment for the Humanities,  the director of my seminar kindly invited me to dinner with a well-known scholar. The dinner was not a success. We went to a trendy restaurant, which was so noisy that I wince at the memory. There was a wait of over an hour. UGH. Also, I could tell the scholar was kind of bored with us, probably saving his energy for people who could help with his career.

He was an incredible gossip and I shared with him one delectable morsel. He then told a story about how he came to own a Veronese.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Did he really tell you the whole story ? That's awful anyway ... The idea of the Lost Museum is very moving and you're right to mention that the lost items went everywhere, including to Allied countries...