"American Women rebuilding France: 1917-1924," an exhibition showcasing Franco-American friendship in images
Ms. Uzan Leary, Executive director of the Association of American friends of Blerancourt, recounts the history of the association and explains its goals. The exhibition displayes a page of our shared history and the Franco-American friendship: “an exposition that demonstrates the dreadful conditions of French people after the Great War, and describes the American effort of support and aid,” as she stated.
e-Toile: Ms. Uzan Leary, you are the Executive Director of the Association of American Friends of Blérancourt. Could you briefly discuss the history of this association as well as its goals?
Ms. Uzan Leary: The goal of the American Friends of Blérancourt, founded by Baroness Bernard Anglejan-Chatillon in 1985, is to raise funds for the restoration of the Castle of Blérancourt, to create gardens, and for the expansion of the Museum of Franco-American Blérancourt which will reopen in 2014 with a new audio-visual system.
e-Toile: Among the many activities of the association, there is one which, it seems to me, you are particularly proud of, the exhibit "American Women Rebuilding France - 1917 1924," which you will be presenting at the Wally Findlay Gallery (Palm Beach) starting next March 1st. This exhibit retraces a page in history as well as Franco-American friendship, does it not?
Ms. Uzan Leary: Yes, since 2010, the exhibit “Anne Morgan’s War: Rebuilding Devastated France 1917-1924” has included photoghaphs and films created by Anne Morgan that served to attract 350 American volunteers and draw financial support needed to organize relief efforts and services necessary for civilian victims in Picardy.
The banker JP Morgan’s daughter, Anne, founded the American Committee for the Devastated Areas (CARD) whose headquarters were situated within the ruins of the Castle of Blérancourt.
After the war, in 1924, she bought the castle and founded the Franco-American Historical Museum in 1931 which later became the National Museum of Franco-American Cooperation.
This exhibit demonstrates both the appalling conditions which affected the French people following the Great War as wells as the effort Americans made to help.
e-Toile: Castle Blérancourt (in Picardy) is the historic site of your association as well as being a symbol of Anne Morgan’s acts of bravery and generosity. With this in mind, how do you suggest we continue to nourish this spirit of Franco-American friendship?
Ms. Uzan Leary: First, we must always remember all that which we have done to help one another throughout history. This is precisely the function of the Museum of Blérancourt.
In the United States, awareness needs to be brought to this shared history of cooperation as well as to the existence of the Franco-American Museum in France through the use of articles, books and traveling exhibitions taken from the archives of Anne Morgan’s Museum. It is especially necessary to encourage Americans to visit the Museum Blérancourt, 90 km from Paris.
Personally, I would love to see a filmmaker become interested in presenting Anne Morgan’s impressive history to the general public – couldn’t you imagine seeing Meryl Streep in this role?
"AMERICAN WOMEN REBUILDING FRANCE - 1917-1924" exhibition
Wally Findlay Galleries International, 165 Worth Avenue, Palm Beach, FL
March 1-31, 2012