The Monuments Men

The Monuments Men were a group of approximately 345 men and women from fourteen nations, most of whom volunteered for service in the newly created MFAA Section during World War II. Coming from all walks of life, many were skilled museum directors, curators, art historians, artists, architects, and educators. Yet, they all shared one common goal: to save cultural treasures from theft and destruction.

The Monuments Men braved the front lines to track, locate, and recover more than five million artistic and cultural items, many of which had been stolen by Hitler and the Nazis. A large contingent of Monuments Men and Women remained in Europe for years after the conclusion of hostilities to orchestrate the return of these same works of art and other cultural items to the countries from which they had been taken. They also organized temporary art exhibitions and music concerts which were instrumental in jump-starting cultural life in the devastated countries of Europe and Japan.

Upon returning home, many of the Monuments Men and Women resumed their leadership positions at some of the greatest cultural and educational institutions in the United States and England. They would, in time, advance even further, becoming directors and curators of world renowned museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, the National Gallery of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Toledo Museum of Art, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and many others. Other revered institutions, such as the New York City Ballet, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts, were the tangible results of ideas of the Monuments Men. In fact, the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict predicated on the achievements of the Monuments Men during and after the war.

The following roster was compiled from personnel lists created by MFAA Officers and officials. The Foundation relied on the authoritative list assembled by Monuments Woman Capt. Edith A. Standen, as well as the official Report of the American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas (the Roberts Commission) submitted to President Harry S. Truman in 1946. Included in these lists are numerous foreign liaison officers, who represented their home countries during postwar restitution operations.



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