March 19th, 2010 | 12:19 pm
Rembrandt, "The Storm on the Sea of Galilee", 1633, Oil on canvas, inscribed on the rudder, 161.7 x 129.8 cm (Image Courtesy of Isabella Stewart Museum)
Today it has been 20 years since 13 invaluable works of art were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, in what has been called the largest property theft in recorded history.
Vermeer, "The Concert", 1658–1660 Oil on canvas, 72.5 x 64.7 cm. (Image Courtesy of Isabella Stewart Museum)
On the night of March 18, 1990, two thieves dressed as Boston police officers gained entry to the museum, handcuffed both night guards, and proceeded to spend about 40 minutes stealing art from 3 different galleries. Among the missing works of art are Vermeer’s The Concert and Rembrandt’s Storm on the Sea of Galilee. A $5 reward is still being offered for information leading to the recovery of the works of art.
For more information on the theft, please visit the museum’s website:
Monuments Man George Stout (Image Courtesy of National Archives)
The Gardner Museum is one of the premiere museums in the United States, established at the turn of the 20th century. It houses more than 2,500 works of art in an intimately designed space. Monuments Man George Stout [link to his bio] served as Director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum from 1955 to 1970.
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December 21st, 2009 | 5:19 pm
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On December 21, 1941, directors from the great museums in America joined at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City for a historic meeting. In the aftermath of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, these cultural leaders realized that it was time to take action. Their initial concerns focused on the safety of American museums – would they be prepared for an attack on their own cities? Other logistical problems were a concern as well. In Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts had closed the Japanese galleries out of fear of angry mobs. The Met was closing at dusk to prevent visitors from running into things in the event of a blackout.
At the meeting, Paul Sachs issued a resolution, stating:
“If, in time of peace, our museums and art galleries are important to the community, in time of war they are doubly valuable. For then, when the petty and the trivial fall way and we are face to face with final and lasting values, we… must summon to our defense all our intellectual and spiritual resources. We must guard jealously all we have inherited from a long past, all we are capable of creating in a trying present, and all we are determined to preserve in a foreseeable future. Art is the imperishable and dynamic expression of these aims. It is, and always has been, the visible evidence of the activity of free minds.”
In hindsight, we know that a further attack on American soil never occurred. However, this meeting had lasting effects: it served as the birthplace of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section. After the Met meeting, Monuments Man George Stout and Harvard Professor Paul Sachs continued to reach out to museum leaders to develop a plan of action for when the Allies would inevitably arrive in Europe, for it had become obvious that it was the cultural treasures of Europe, not America, that would need protection. The Monuments Men were the embodiment the eloquent words Sachs spoke in December 1941.
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