The Monuments Men

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Maj. Denys Eyre Lankester Haynes ( 1913-1994 )

Denys Eyre Lankester Haynes was born in Harrowgate, England on February 15, 1913 to an Episcopal minister, Hugh Lankester Haynes and his wife Emmeline Marianne Chaldecott. He graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge with a degree in Classical Archaeology in 1936. He studied Roman provincial archaeology at Bonn before being admitted to the British School at Rome. His first appointment was to the Metalwork Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1937. He was soon hired by Bernard Ashmole, the newly-appointed head of the Greek and Roman Antiquities Department at the British Museum. Haynes served alongside Ashmole as Assistant Keeper starting in 1939.

While Haynes was working at the British Museum, war broke out in Europe. He was one of the staff chosen to pack the museum’s antiquities for safe transport into hiding. In 1941, he enlisted in the Royal Artillery before transferring to the Intelligence Corps. While serving in the map division during General Harold Alexander’s Italian campaign, Haynes was involved in the search for Mussolini’s papers. In 1943, he was appointed Antiquities Officer in Tripoli, at which time he began writing Historical and Archaeological Guide to Ancient Tripolitania (1946).

Upon his return home to the British Museum, Haynes’s work came full circle. He was proudly on hand to help re-install the same objects he had sent into hiding at the beginning of the war. After becoming Deputy Keeper of Greek and Roman antiquities in 1954, he succeeded Bernard Ashmole as Keeper in 1956. He published multiple works on the Greek treasures under his care such as Parthenon Frieze (1958), a revised edition of A Historical Guide to the Sculptures of the Parthenon to accompany the 1962 opening of the Duveen Gallery, and The Portland Vase (1964). In 1968, he orchestrated the opening of fourteen new galleries on the museum’s ground floor devoted solely to Greek and Roman antiquities, which were followed by his book Fifty Masterpieces of Classical Art in the British Museum (1969).

Haynes was named the Geddes-Harrower professor of Greek art and archaeology at the University of Aberdeen in 1972; his lectures during that year were later published in 1981 as Greek Art and the Idea of Freedom. In addition to serving as a member of the advisory board for the Ashmoleon Museum from 1979 to 1987, Haynes was a member of the German Archaeological Institute and Chairman of the Society for Libyan Studies. He continues to be memorialized today with the annual Haynes lectures at the British Museum, which were founded in his memory shortly after his death in 1994.