The most extraordinary legacy of this archive is the collection of 1,215 silver gelatin photographic prints that provide a visual account of the actions of the Monuments Officers in Italian territory. These images depict damaged buildings, inspections and restoration work that can be linked to field reports written by MFAA officers in the course of their duties. They also depict MFAA officers and soldiers conducting their activities in the field, including the recovery and return to Florence of works of art that had been moved by German troops to Campo Tures and San Leonardo in South Tyrol. These archival photographs help us to grasp visually the destruction of cultural patrimony that faced Italians and monuments officers during the Second World War, as well as the scale of the efforts that were made to recover it. These resources help us to identify and evaluate historical lessons that can still contribute to preservation and protection of global cultural heritage amidst today’s armed conflicts.
In the spring of 2020, at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, an additional 170 loose photographs were catalogued by Library consultant Alessandra Ciangherotti and added to the already rich photographic record. Let’s find out more about the John Bryan Ward-Perkins War Damage Collection (1940-1946) and follow the Allied Monument Officers through Italy in their attempt to salvage and protect the Italian cultural patrimony during the Second World War.