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Prado Museum Honors Members of Committee that Safeguarded Spanish Treasures
Spain's Minister of Culture Angeles Gonzalez-Sinde (L) and Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero sit next to Velazquez's "Las Meninas" painting during a ceremony to pay tribute to the International Committee for the Safeguarding of Spanish Art Treasures at Madrid's Prado Museum January 25, 2010. The work carried out by this Committee in 1939 prevented hundreds of works of art from being destroyed during the Spanish Civil War. REUTERS/Susana Vera.
MADRID.- In a difficult and risky mission, a committee formed by the persons responsible of the European and American museums worked together to save Spanish Works of art during that country’s Civil War.

Works of art from the Prado Museum, the Academy of Fine Arts in San Fernando, the Escorial, the Royal Palace, National Library and those owned by the Church as well as those from prívate collections, started a journey that took them through different Spanish cities and ended up in Geneva, where they were protected until the end of the war.

This whole adventure was possible thanks to the Directors from several museums who formed in 1939 the International Committee for the Safeguarding of Spanish Art Treasures, and assumed the responsibility of organizing the shipment and care of the works of art. Seventy-one buses trucks crossed the French border with the treasures.

The institutions involved in what the President of the Government, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has considered ''took part in the greatest works of art rescue operation in history'', were the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Art and History in Geneva, the Royal Museums for the Fine Arts in Belgium, the Louvre in Paris, the National Gallery, Tate Gallery and the Wallace collection in London, the Museums of France, and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

During the Spanish Civil War, upon the recommendation of the League of Nations, the museum staff removed 353 paintings, 168 drawings and the Dauphin's Treasure and sent the art to Valencia, then later to Girona, and finally to Geneva. The art had to be returned across French territory in night trains to the museum upon the commencement of World War II.


Prado Museum | Spanish Treasures | Civil War |


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January 26, 2010

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