BOSTON, MA.- At an afternoon press conference held today at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), His Excellency Francesco Rutelli, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture of the Italian Republic, and Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the MFA, unveiled a major antiquity on loan to the MFA from Italy. This is a historic moment in the partnership between the MFA and Italy the MFA was the first museum to return objects to Italy as part of an agreement signed in Rome this past September, and the MFA is the first museum to receive a loan from the Italian government under these newly-established guidelines to protect antiquities. The colossal marble statue, Eirene (Goddess of Peace), dates back to the first half of the first century A.D. and will be on view in the MFAs Roman Court Gallery through the fall of 2009. On hand to celebrate this occasion were: His Excellency Giovanni Castellaneta, Ambassador of Italy to the United States; a delegation from Italy; MFA Trustees; and members of the Italian-American business and academic community.
Eirene, which measures over nine feet high, was excavated in 1986 from the garden of a Roman villa in the territory of Palombara Sabina ( 20 miles northeast of Rome ). Like many Roman monumental sculptures, Eirene is an adaptation of a famous Greek sculpture. She is based on a bronze sculpture of Peace holding the baby Ploutos ( Wealth ) put up in the Agora at Athens and made by Kephisodotos, active in the early fourth century B.C. The head and torso were produced from different marbles, but both date to the early Imperial period ( late first century B.C. to early first century A.D. ). In Italy, the head and torso had been displayed separately, but MFA conservators have joined the two pieces together for display for the first time in modern history.
We are proud of our historic partnership with Italy, and to be a leader in developing creative ways for museums and countries to work together in cultural exchange said Malcolm Rogers. With the loan of this important antiquity, we mark a new era in which the public has access to the worlds greatest treasures, while also making a statement against the illicit excavation and trade of antiquities.
This loan is one facet of a new era of cultural exchange between Italy and the MFA that was inaugurated on September 28, 2006, when Museum Director Malcolm Rogers traveled to Rome for a press conference and the signing of an agreement with Giuseppe Proietti of the Italian Ministry of Culture, in the presence of Minister Rutelli. At that time, Rogers brought 13 antiquities to Rome and transferred them to the Italian government. The agreement between the MFA and the Italian government also includes loans of significant antiquities from Italy to the MFAs displays, of which Eirene is the first, and establishes a process by which the MFA and Italy will exchange information with respect to the Museums future acquisitions of Italian antiquities. The partnership also envisages collaboration in the areas of scholarship, conservation, archaeological investigation and opportunities for future exhibitions, including loans to the Museums major exhibition on Venetian painting scheduled for 2009.
The MFA has been a leader within the museum community in sharing objects in its collection, and their provenance history, worldwide on its Web site. Currently, information about more than 330,000 objects is available at: www.mfa.org/collections.
Comments of His Excellency Francesco Rutelli, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture of the Italian Republic: "This meeting is really first in our hearts in our visit to the United States, because we want to thank the representatives of the leadership of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Trustees, and the Director representing all of you at this fantastic institution because we are experiencing a surprising, new, fresh opportunity. I want to thank you again, and here, coming to your home, for the determination, transparency, and cultural coherence you displayed."
"Because from the very moment when it was clear that the some of objects that were here would have to be returned to Italy, you have done it, and you have even before we signed an agreement. That shows clear ideas, and let me say, a very clear moral authority."
"I thank you so much. And its not just returning some very important works of archaeology to the Eternal City, and to Italy, but we started and today we show the beginning of a very, very important scientific and cultural cooperation. What you are going to see in a few minutes is a beautiful statue of Eirene, Goddess of Peace, representing peace
"You will see a beautiful work of art that will remain here for about four years, and before this term ends other masterpieces will be here in Boston, other initiatives of cooperation in archaeological projects and scientific debate will be put in place. So, again, as I said, something very new, fresh starts in Boston."
"We have done something-its just a start. And we want to share with a very important part of the Italian community here in Boston, a community specially devoted to research, specially devoted to new technologies, specially devoted to innovation, just to show how much we feel that its the same ground. History, tradition, our national pride that is a universal pride, and the future you feel as your daily life here in Boston."