- Associated Press - Thursday, February 6, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Minneapolis Institute of Arts knows a marketing opportunity when it sees one. It’s capitalizing on the upcoming release of a movie about efforts to protect priceless art objects from Adolf Hitler.

The museum is displaying nine pieces associated with the real-life effort portrayed in “The Monuments Men.”

Starring and directed by George Clooney, “The Monuments Men” opens in theaters nationally Friday. It depicts the efforts of academics and museum curators who raced against time to discover where Hitler and his minions had stashed stolen artworks during World War II.

Some of the recovered art found its way to the Minneapolis museum.

“It’s great to see this story being told,” Erika Holmquist-Wall, the MIA’s assistant curator of paintings, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press (http://bit.ly/1eC9nho ).

“The Hollywood spin on it raises awareness. For us, it’s a fantastic way to get people to visit the museum to see these amazing works of art that were caught in this whole sticky web,” Holmquist-Wall said.

The most famous of the MIA works is a bust of St. John the Baptist by Italian sculptor Benedetto da Rovezzano. A widely reprinted photo shows the Monuments Men hauling it out of a salt mine in Altaussee, Austria, where Nazi looters had dumped it.

Other pieces on the museum’s self-guided tour include Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s “The Piazza San Marco, Venice,” which Hitler ordered removed from a German museum because it was “degenerate” (the Nazis weren’t fans of modern art), and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s “Modern Bohemia,” also taken from a museum and later sold at a Swiss auction house for $75 to raise money for Nazi causes.

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Online:

Minneapolis Institute of Arts: http://new.artsmia.org

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com