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Patrimony in Peril: Germany’s Survey of Mural Paintings Threatened During WWII

Molli Kuenstner, image specialist for northern European art, National Gallery of Art, and Thomas O’Callaghan, image specialist for Spanish art, National Gallery of Art. In this lecture, which took place on October 27, 2014, as part of the Works in Progress series at the National Gallery of Art, Molli Kuenstner and Thomas O’Callaghan discuss the Gallery’s partial set of historic slides from the Führerprojekt, an official Nazi archive produced by order of Adolf Hitler. In April 1943, at the height of World War II, Hitler issued the Führerauftrag Monumentalmalerei (Führer’s Order for Monumental Painting) ordering the Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda to administer a photographic survey of immovable murals threatened by Allied bombing. The survey is significant because by the end of the war 60% of the photographed sites had been damaged or destroyed. Kuenstner and O’Callaghan also highlight the agency of publisher Kurt Wolff in bringing the partial set of 4,500 Führerprojekt and endangered German and Austrian stained-glass survey slides to the Gallery in 1951.