Mexican Paintings Saved from Fire During the “Bogotazo” in 1948 to Go on Exhibit
By Dialogo August 27, 2009Mexico City, 24 August (EFE).- The Mexican authorities will exhibit more than a hundred works by Mexican painters like Rivera, Siqueiros, Velasco, Goitia, Tamayo, and Chávez Morado, among others, saved from fire by Mexican museologist Fernando Gamboa in Colombia in 1948 during the “Bogotazo,” official sources announced today. The National Council for Culture and the Arts (Conaculta) indicated that this exhibit, titled “Fernando Gamboa: Art at Risk,” will open on Thursday, 27 August, and will be on display until March of next year in the Diego Rivera Mural Museum, the home of the mural “Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda.” The director of the museum, Carmen Gaytán, explained to EFE that the exhibit is an event to pay homage to Fernando Gamboa (1909-1990), the father of museum studies in Mexico, who dedicated his life to promoting Mexican art around the world. She said that Gamboa had taken eight crates to Bogotá with representative examples of Mexican art from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries, to be exhibited during a Pan-American meeting at the Palace of Communications in Colombia. The exhibit, titled “Four Centuries of Mexican Art,” never opened due to the explosion of violence that followed the assassination of Colombian liberal leader Jorge Eliécer Gaitán on 9 April 1948. “Gamboa wrapped himself in a Mexican flag that he took from the Mexican embassy, to try to prevent the factions from shooting at him, and together with two other individuals, he went into the burning building to rescue and protect the works he had brought from Mexico,” Gaytán said. Gamboa also spent three days locked in without eating in order to protect the paintings, while shootouts and clashes took place in the streets. Gaytán explained that thanks to the lists drawn up by Gamboa, it was possible to reconstruct the exhibit, made up of about forty oil paintings and ninety other works belonging to a variety of private collections and museums such as the Soumaya, the Carrillo Gil, and the José María Velasco Museum, among others. “In the museum vestibule a statue of Don Fernando has been set up with the original flags that he used on that occasion and that still show the burn marks from when he pulled the crates out of the fire,” she added. The director of the Diego Rivera Mural Museum explained that this is the first time that this collection will be exhibited since Gamboa’s attempt sixty-one years ago.