The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Austria, has shipped a mansion's worth of treasures to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts the upcoming exhibit, "The Habsburgs: Rarely seen masterpieces from Europe's greatest dynasty." Starting Feb. 15, art lovers will be able to gaze upon paintings of goddesses and powder-wigged princes, gleaming suits of armor, an elaborately carved ivory tankard from 1642 and other royal decorations and knick-knacks.
First, the Viennese museum got a promise from the U.S. government that it would get its artworks back. In December, the State Department ruled that the import of these "culturally significant objects" was in the national interest. Such a ruling has been an option for foreign museums since 1965, the year Congress passed a law to encourage loans of artworks from overseas, according to Pooja Jhunjhunwala, a State Department spokesperson. The government guarantees that it won't let a judge or anyone else seize an artwork while it's away from its home institution. In essence, the Habsburg masterpieces have diplomatic immunity.
The Habsburg exhibit debuts at the MIA, closes May 10 and then travels to Houston and Atlanta.
RIght: "Jupiter and Io," Antonio Allegri, called Correggio ca. 1530 (photo by Kunsthistorisches Museum)