When you think about it, “The Monuments Men” is the perfect movie for Washington: Educated nerds defeat the Nazis, save crown jewels of Western civilization.
George Clooney’s old-school World War II flick about the military’s Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program was released in theaters on Friday, including at the District’s great Uptown Theater. The city’s other cultural institutions, meanwhile, have geared up exhibits to provide some context for the real-life heroes that made the monuments men so monumental.
The National Gallery of Art, for instance, is unveiling an exhibit on Feb. 11, “The Monuments Men and the National Gallery of Art: Behind the History,” in its West Building Founders Room. The exhibit features photos, documents and other items.
Down the street, the National Archives has on display “The ‘Hitler Albums’ — Meticulously Documented Plunder,” a record of the Nazi’s Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, or ERR, the point agency for the Third Reich’s efforts to loot art in occupied countries.
The “Hitler Albums” were documents that catalogued the most priceless of the art for a planned museum dedicated to the Nazi leader. Thirty-nine of the albums were discovered by U.S. forces at the Nazis’ Neuschwanstein Castle and turned over to the MFAA. They’re on display until Feb. 19 in the Archives’ East Rotunda Gallery. Also on Feb. 19, Richard Edsel, author of “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History,” the primary source for Clooney’s movie, will be part of a panel discussion at the Archives’ William McGowan Theater at 7 p.m., that will cover his books, the real-life MFAA, the film and his foundation, the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art. A book signing will follow the discussion.
Roll Call Book Club Continues
Roll Call’s book club is back on Feb. 13, and in a new venue. Time Magazine’s Mark Halperin discusses his new book (co-written with New York Magazine’s John Heilemann) about the 2012 presidential election, “Double Down.”
A sequel to the duo’s “Game Change,” one of the definitive chronicles of the 2008 presidential race, “Double Down” weaves a complicated tapestry that reveals the humor and humanity of its principals, the people laying it on the line for a shot at the most important elected office in the world.
The event starts at 6 p.m. at Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. It’s free, but please register at cqrcbooks-halperin.eventbrite.com. Complimentary copies of the book will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.