'Monuments' records shown
WASHINGTON — When Paris fell to the Nazis in World War II, art historians realized Europe's monuments, art, cathedrals and architecture were at risk and began mobilizing to protect them.
In Washington, the newly opened National Gallery of Art became the museum world's epicenter for lobbying President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Allied forces in 1941 to prevent the ravaging of Europe's monuments. Their efforts formed a corps of U.S. and British soldiers who worked to protect cultural sites and recover looted art after the war.
For the first time, photographs, maps, correspondence and records — including lists of art amassed by Adolf Hitler and other Nazi leaders — from the corps of soldiers known as “monuments men” are going on display in the National Gallery of Art, an archives gallery at the Smithsonian's Donald W. Reynolds Center and the National Archives.
At the same time, George Clooney, Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett tell the story in “The Monuments Men” movie opening on Friday, drawing attention to the history. It's a story straight out of the nation's archives and art repositories from records that real monuments men and women left behind.
One of them was George Leslie Stout, an art conservator at the Fogg Museum in Boston, who drafted a plan for a special military team to protect Europe's art from Allied bombings. He enlisted in the Navy with hopes of seeing his plan through. Leaders of the National Gallery of Art pressed the case, leading to the formation of the Army's Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section.
Examining the real records helps bring the story of the “monuments men” to life, said Maygene Daniels, chief of the National Gallery's archives.
“What we're trying to recreate is what it was like to be a young officer trained in art history or archaeology who finds yourself in the military and has this amazing responsibility of protecting great art,” she said. “It was an extraordinary moment in history.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Defense chief: U.S. expanding special operations force in Iraq
- Suspect in Colorado clinic attack Dear makes court appearance
- Ex-speaker, once a major powerbroker, convicted in N.Y.
- Atlantic Coast cities rise up against offshore drilling plans
- New Navy destroyer Zumwalt’s seaworthiness questioned before sea trials
- Police shooting of black teen cited in University of Chicago threat
- EPA increases ethanol in gasoline supply for 2016
- New York City’s salt warning rule to take effect at chain restaurants
- Opposition mounts to genetic modification of human embryos
- House may move quickly to overhaul visa waiver program
- Supreme Court’s election-year lineup rich in high-profile cases