JCU Alumna Anna Bottinelli Attends Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony

Anna Bottinelli

Anna Bottinelli

Originally from Florence, Anna graduated from JCU in 2010 with a major in Art History and a minor in Business Administration. Anna received her M.A. in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, where she began working as a researcher for the Monuments Men Foundation- a job that combined her passions for art and analysis, and which led to unforgettable events.

In May 2014, U.S Congress voted to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Monuments Men, a group of museum directors, curators, art historians, and educators who saved millions of monuments and other cultural treasures from the Nazis during World War II, for their heroic role in preserving works of cultural importance.

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor bestowed by the United States. Previous recipients include George Washington and Thomas Edison. JCU Alumna Anna Bottinelli was personally invited to attend the event.

Read the interview with Anna:

Congratulations on taking part in the ceremony of the Congressional Gold Medal! Tell us about your experience.
My colleagues and I were invited to Washington, D.C. to meet the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, alongside other leaders of both the House and the Senate who would later be presenting the awards.

In addition to the 14 men and women receiving the award, some 200 relatives of the deceased Monuments Men also attended the ceremony, as did some members of Congress. It was incredibly moving to see these heroes of civilization finally getting the recognition they deserve.

Where are you working currently?
I am currently based in Dallas, Texas- but my work has taken me all over Italy and the US, as for the past five years, I’ve worked as a researcher for the Monuments Men Foundation, an organization founded by American writer and businessman Robert Edsel.

The Monuments Men were a group of about 345 museum directors, curators, art historians, and educators who saved millions of monuments and other cultural treasures from the Nazis during World War II. The mission of the Monuments Men Foundation is to preserve the heroic legacy of these men and women by raising public awareness of the importance of protecting and safeguarding art.

What does your work entail?
The subject of my study is now as timely as ever, given the recent influx of cultural sites being destroyed in the Middle East. Our foundation also aims to raise world-wide awareness on how to preserve cultural heritage specifically in times of conflict.

Aside from this, I’ve also been working on the restitution of cultural objects missing since World War II, including the return of eight 16th-century books to the University of Naples and a further five paintings to Germany.

You recently visited JCU- what were your impressions?
Whenever I come to Rome, I make sure to find time to visit my Alma Mater. I am glad to see that even with the growth of JCU and its student body, the university still has the same feel, staff, and spirit.

As it serves as the “essence” of a university, I would say the new library is a great addition, as any improvement in that area is monumental to the overall distinctiveness of an institution. I remember working as a library assistant during my time at JCU, and how the space practically became my home.

Learn more about the Department of Art History at John Cabot University.