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### Unveiling Stolen Art Treasures at the First Rome Center Honors College Forum

Photo credit: Robert Posey Collection

The concept of looted art often evokes images of Nazis plundering priceless Rembrandts and Vermeers during the tumult of World War II. While this scenario is well-documented in works like The Monuments Men, art theft has been a persistent issue within the intricate networks of the art world long before the era of modern art museums.

The inaugural Honors College forum, Looted Art, delves into the origins of the communities involved in the creation and consumption of European fine arts, even those operating outside legal boundaries. Taught by Consuelo Lollobrigida, an art history faculty member at the Rome Center, the course explores the historical backdrop of public and private institutions that have nurtured artistic creativity from Antiquity to the Postwar period.

According to Lollobrigida, students in the course gain insights into the evolution of collecting practices, the establishment of museums, the dispersion of European historical collections, and the emergence of museums in the United States. The interdisciplinary nature of the course spans art, sociology, history, economics, law, and criminology, shedding light on the art market, both legal and illicit.

In addition to these topics, Looted Art delves into the intriguing realm of art crime and its intricate ties to the global art market. One student, Casey Hanauer, shared how the forum uncovered a clandestine world of politics and organized crime intertwined with the lucrative trade in stolen art. The course includes a visit to the headquarters of the Carabinieri Art Squad, an Italian military unit dedicated to safeguarding against illegal art trafficking, as well as trips to a local art auction house and the export office of Rome.

Francesco Bedeschi, the director of the Rome Center, emphasized the value of hands-on courses like Looted Art in providing students with experiential learning opportunities and preparing them for a diverse, interconnected world. Studying in a city steeped in history like Rome offers students a direct encounter with a rich tapestry of new experiences and cultural perspectives.

The University of Arkansas Honors College, established in 2002, serves as a hub for high-achieving undergraduate students and distinguished professors to engage in transformative learning experiences. The college offers freshman fellowships and substantial funding for research and study abroad opportunities, fostering a community of scholars known for their academic excellence and research contributions.

Since its founding in 1992, the Rome Center has been a premier destination for University of Arkansas students seeking immersive study abroad programs. Initially tailored for architecture students, the center expanded its offerings to students from various disciplines in 2016. Students can partake in study abroad programs at the Rome Center throughout the academic year, with courses spanning a wide array of disciplines.

The Graduate School and International Education at the University of Arkansas plays a pivotal role in facilitating impactful experiences for graduate and international students, as well as domestic students engaging in study abroad programs. Through comprehensive programming, support services, and collaboration with campus partners, the school strives to enrich the academic and research landscape of the university by attracting top-tier graduate students and fostering a diverse international student community. Additionally, the Graduate School and International Education connects domestic students with transformative study abroad opportunities, broadening their cultural horizons and enriching their educational journey.