One museum in Brest that Andy, Nigel and I enjoyed was the Museum of Confiscated Art (Known locally as the Museum of Salvaged Artistic Values), a display of valuable international art pieces (paintings, sculptures, ceramics) seized by Brest border guards as they were being smuggled out of the country.
The museum itself is in an old house (on 39 Lenin Street) and, judging from the outside, you would never guess what was inside:
The ingenuity of individuals attempting to beat the system has always provided me with a source of optimism in regard to humanity (which normally provides many sources of pessimism).
I particularly liked the “shove it” container below that was used to smuggle something out. Someone must have gotten a good laugh out of that one at the expense of the authorities:
Unfortunately, not all art thieves and smugglers are very culturally sensitive or sophisticated. As such, some pieces are damaged or destroyed in the theft or smuggling process – such as this work below that was hacked into parts in order to be easier to conceal:
Our guide… Eastern European women can be beautiful when they are younger, but somehow they all turn out looking like this when they get older:
I’m not generally a fan of religious pieces as I prefer realism in the visual arts. However, the romance of criminality added to my appreciation of the many religious works that were begged, borrowed, bribed or stolen to be smuggled out of Belarus:
And, of course, we all enjoyed these:
Whoever was trying to get this out of the country would have made his wife, girlfriend or mistress very happy:
Don’t think that these were all works that someone tried to stuff down their pants or into a suitcase either. Sometimes individuals would try to send entire rooms over the border hidden inside a truck. And when I say rooms, I am not just referring to the contents. I mean rooms – as in the panels on the walls, the flooring, the furniture, the rugs – everything:
Another room (this one was packed inside a truck carrying powdered milk):
A surprisingly large section of the Museum of Confiscated Art is devoted to clocks. Either people trying to smuggle clocks aren’t very good at doing so or clocks are a popular item to steal:
As you might expect, the collection of paintings in the museum is fairly eclectic, but this just makes it all the more enjoyable:
I would love to know the background stories on the art in the museum because I am sure some of the stories are great.