Theodore Allen Heinrich (1910-1981)
Art curator, administrator, and collector, Theodore Allen Heinrich was born in Tacoma, Washington on June 15, 1910. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley before traveling extensively in Europe and the Mediterranean. His travels fostered a lifelong interest in the art of Italy and Greece. Later in life, he became well known for lavish social gatherings held at Villa Baroni, his residence on the Italian island of Isola de Giglio. In 1932 he began his graduate studies at Cambridge University, where he completed a Master’s degree in art and architectural history from King’s College in 1936. He also attempted a Ph.D. in Art History from King’s College, but it was never approved.
Following his return to the United States in 1936, Heinrich worked a series of teaching jobs before enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1943. He completed multiple training programs at locations around the country, including the Air Forces Technical Training School in Sheppard Field, Texas, Buckley Field in Denver, Colorado, Hunter Field in Savannah, Georgia, and Field Artillery School in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Due to his extensive education, he was recommended for further training with the Military Intelligence Training Centre/Officer’s Candidate School at Camp Ritchie, Maryland. In 1943, upon completion of his training, he began working at SHAEF, first as a junior officer on the intelligence staff of General Eisenhower, and later as the Deputy Chief, Enemy Communications Section of SHAEF G-2 (Intelligence). During this time, he administered intelligence operations dealing with the German railway system.
In 1945 Heinrich began work as an MFAA Officer with the Office of Military Government for the Regierungsbezirk Kassel region of Germany. In early 1946 he was assigned to the Office of Military Government for Greater Hesse. In this position, he worked at the Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point alongside fellow Monuments Men Capt. Patrick Kelleher, Jesse E. Boell, and Maurice DeVinna. For one week in April 1946 he served as Acting Director of the Marburg Central Collecting Point while its Director, Monuments Man Pfc. Francis Bilodeau, was on assignment in Munich. During his work at the various collecting points, Heinrich was responsible for the organization of numerous prominent exhibitions, including those structured around significant loans from prominent European museums. In late April 1946 he travelled to Darmstadt, Germany with Kelleher to arrange for a loan of paintings from the Hessisches Landesmuseum to be included in an exhibition at the Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point. That same month, he traveled to Kassel to supervise the opening of the State Collections of Kassel in the Landesmuseum, Kassel. The exhibition symbolized the first major German museum in the American Zone to be reopened in its original facility with its own collection.
Heinrich remained in Germany well into 1950, assisting local officials with the rebuilding of their museums, libraries, and archives. During this time, he held some of the most prominent positions in the MFAA in Germany and was instrumental in the management of the postwar restitution effort. From late 1946 to December 1949, he served as Chief of the MFAA Section of the Office of Military Government for Greater Hesse. Beginning in November 1946, he filled in as Acting Director of the Offenbach Archival Depot while a replacement was chosen for its former Director, Monuments Man Capt. Isaac Bencowitz. He also served as Cultural Affairs Advisor to the U.S. High Commission for Germany (HICOG) and Director of the Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point before it officially ceased operations under the direction of Monuments Man Lt. Cdr. Thomas C. Howe, Jr.
For his devoted service during and after the war, Heinrich was awarded the Bronze Star and the Belgian Croix de Guerre. After his return to the United States, he began a career as a successful museum curator and lecturer. He worked as Curator of Art Collections at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California and Associate Curator of Paintings and Curator of Drawings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. In Toronto, he served as Director of the Royal Ontario Museum until 1962. He also gave lectures at universities across the country, including the University of Saskatchewan at Regina and York University. In 1963 he spent one year in Pakistan as Cultural Advisor to the Asia Foundation. He was a member of several museum boards and cultural institutions, including the International Council on Museums (ICOM), where he assisted in the 1971 research study, “Public Attitudes Toward Art.” An enthusiastic collector, his personal collection included old master drawings and nineteenth-century French lithographs.
Theodore Heinrich died in 1981. Today, his archives are conserved at the University of Saskatchewan’s Regina campus.