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Mapping Most Wanted Art

Over the course of one month, students in the Digital Humanities Seminar course at Michigan State University created a digital project that showcases the WWII Most Wanted Art™ deck of playing cards in new ways. The project was conceived by the students and had the aim of raising awareness about the art that remains missing by engaging readers with interactive maps.

Kristen Mapes, course instructor, Assistant Director of Digital Humanities in the College of Arts & Letters and Foundation trustee said "The students worked together to imagine an audience for this project and developed their storytelling and visualization techniques according to those decisions. They were able to work quickly and create something exciting in part because the project was focused on re-framing and building on the materials already available through the Foundation's website. Our class project is meant to show appreciation for and inspire engagement with art generally, and direct people to the Foundation's ongoing work."

Visitors to the project website can explore the last known locations of the artworks as well as the locations of the art before they were looted, forcibly sold, etc. Lines connect these two points to indicate the known journeys of the art. In addition to seeing the collection of art created through the Most Wanted Art cards on the map, each student in the class profiled one piece of art. These profiles go into greater depth to tell the stories of the art, their owners, and the sometimes-circuitous paths that they went on during the period leading up to World War II, during the war, and sometimes afterward.

The Foundation is grateful to Kristen for utilizing the extensive content available on the Foundation website to creatively revisit the WWII Most Wanted Art™ project with her students. In just a glance, the map clearly shows not only the tortuous journey of many of the featured artworks, but also how several of them were last seen in the United States, some as recently as in 1990s, and are in all likelihood still hanging on the wrong walls.

Decks of our WWII Most Wanted Art™ playing cards are available for sale on our online store. Having educators in mind, we also created WWII Most Wanted Art™ posters, learn more.


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