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National WWII Museum plans gallery dedicated to work of Monuments Men

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NEW ORLEANS - The National WWII Museum in New Orleans plans a gallery commemorating the work of men and women who saved stolen cultural treasures from destruction by the Nazis — efforts also portrayed in a movie set for release in February.

The museum announced plans for the gallery on Thursday. It will open in 2016 as part of the museum's developing "Liberation Pavilion," an area dedicated to the closing months of the war and the immediate postwar years.

A museum news release says the gallery will highlight wartime measures taken to locate hundreds of thousands of stolen art works, including masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo. It also will recreate for visitors the journey some art-rescuers took through an Austrian salt mine where some works were stored.

The statement also says the gallery will provide visitors with "an immersive experience that brings the missions of these previously unsung heroes to life."

Taking part in Thursday's announcement at the museum was Robert Edsel, author of the book "The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History." Edsel also is a member of the museum's board of trustees.

The movie, "The Monuments Men," is based on Edsel's book. Set for release Feb. 7, it was directed by George Clooney who stars in it along with Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Cate Blanchett.

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