"The opening of the first permanent space in the Uffizi Galleries dedicated to this function suggests an important theme for a fundamental and historical-institutional reflection. A reflection on the role that public art plays for the community and on the specific strategies that have been developed in the Italian system, since the Second World War, for its protection and recovery. It is a delicate task requiring very high levels of expertise and close cooperation between the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism and the Carabinieri's Division for the Protection of Cultural Heritage" (Eike Schmidt, Director of the Uffizi Galleries).
In the current circumstances and after the recent earthquakes, no topic could be more fitting than the one chosen for this year's exhibition: as expressed by its very title, it will stimulate the public to reflect on what Director Eike Schmidt hopes will happen, not only by narrating the historical events that have involved and too often injured our cultural heritage from the Second World War to the present day, but also the legislative and institutional actions that have the task of protecting and safeguarding it for future generations. These include the creation - a unique initiative in the world - of a 'specialised' police force, the Carabinieri's Division for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, which, in almost half a century of activity, has taken an active part in the protection and recovery of our cultural heritage.
Such initiatives raise awareness of how Italy's identity is closely linked to its marvellous heritage, resulting from the many civilisations that have flourished on our territory over the centuries. "A precious asset that belongs to the whole of humanity and must be safeguarded and passed on to future generations in its integrity. This is a noble task that the entire country is called upon to perform, as this exhibition reminds us" (Dario Franceschini, Italian Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism).
The exhibition is divided into eight sections that will provide an account of crimes against our heritage: from war crimes to terrorism, to theft for profit and clandestine excavations with the consequent illegal exports (mafia-based criminal activities that were even supported by foreign institutions that were all too often indifferent to the illicit origin of what they were buying). Lastly, the laudable work of the Carabinieri's Division for the Protection of Cultural Heritage.
The exhibition, whose catalogue is published by Sillabe, is directed and curated by Eike D. Schmidt with Fabrizio Paolucci, Daniela Parenti and Francesca De Luca. It is under the patronage of the President of the Italian Republic and promoted by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Tourism, the Carabinieri Corps, the Carabinieri's Division for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, the Uffizi Galleries, Firenze Musei, the Giovanni and Francesca Falcone Foundation, Open Group, and the First Social Life Association.