Italy opens new museum of rescued treasures in Rome

Rome: Italy has opened a new museum showcasing ancient artefacts that were looted from Italian archaeological sites and trafficked abroad before being rescued by art police.

The Museo dell’Arte Salvata (Museum of Rescued Art) is housed in the Octagonal Hall at the Baths of Diocletian, part of the National Roman Museum network in Rome.

The collection boasts 260 Etruscan, Greek and Roman artefacts, many of which were stolen by tomb-raiders or tombaroli before making their illicit way into private collections, museums and auction houses.

The majority of the pieces in the new museum’s rotating collection were seized as part of a $10 million repatriation overseen by the Manhattan district attorney’s office in collaboration with the TPC cultural heritage unit of the Carabinieri.

Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini, who inaugurated the museum, said that stolen works of art and archaeological finds that are dispersed, sold or exported illegally represent “a significant loss for the cultural heritage of a country”, adding that the “protection of these treasures is an institutional duty, but also a moral commitment”.