O. Louis Mazzatenta

Gregory Guroff (left), president of the Foundation for International Arts and Education, began laying the groundwork for a traveling exhibition of Georgian art in late 1997. He consulted Gary Vikan (right), an expert in Byzantine art and the director of the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore. The two men invested over a year and a half of their time—and about $1 million—preparing Land of Myth and Fire. They traveled frequently to Georgia to meet with political officials, selected more than 150 pieces for the exhibit and tracked down corporate sponsors—but in the end their efforts proved fruitless. Georgia’s president Eduard Shevardnadze aborted the exhibition when his political opposition and the country’s religious leaders objected to having national treasures sent abroad.