Rescuing art from conflict

The BBC Arts editor, Will Gompertz, chaired a panel with the author, Ben Okri, the art curator, Alex Walton and the co-curator of Smithsonian London, Tommy Wide spoke of the importance of protecting art from conflict and spoke of museums' cultural significance.

Walton of the Imperial War Museum spoke of how art was evacuated from London, and particular objects were lost as the museum’s surrounding area was targeted by bombing.

Walton said, “The whole area surrounding the museum was hit.”

“There were few objects lost, particularly from one bomb that came through in 1940, it was a direct hit on the museum… But amazingly not that many [lost objects] considering the risk that they took.”

She also discussed that some of the maps and photos were brought back from evacuation as they were deemed significant for political propaganda.

“Photographs that they evacuated initially were brought back because they were of such use for propaganda, for training, for understanding war.”

Wide provided a useful reminder of the importance of museums.

 “The museum can be a wonderful hall for dialogue, a kind of temple for dialogue and conversation.”  

Pictured L-R: Will Gompertz, Alex Walton, Ben Okri and Tommy Wide

If you’re interested in Art, also see Fiona Maine talk about the magic of visual texts at 9 am June 1. If you like watching Hay Festival events digitally, please sign up to the Hay Player for more from the world’s greatest thinkers.

Photo by Chris Athanasiou