The Monuments Men

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? Taylor ( ? - ? )

This name is included on a list of Monuments Men and Women compiled by Capt. Edith A. Standen during her service in postwar Germany. No first name was provided on her list.

Currently, the Foundation believes this individual to be Joshua Charles Taylor (1917-1981), Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C. from 1970 to 1981. Born in Hillsboro, Oregon, Taylor worked as a designer for theater and ballet groups, including the San Francisco Opera Ballet, before completing a degree in literature from Reed College in Portland. During World War II, he earned the Bronze Star.

Taylor’s military service in Italy inspired him to pursue a postwar career in art history. Upon his return, he undertook his studies in earnest, ultimately completing a Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1956. He then taught art history and humanities at the University of Chicago for almost twenty years. At the Smithsonian National Museum of American Art, Taylor doubled the museum’s collection, founded a project to list every American painting created before 1914, and was responsible for planning numerous successful exhibitions.

Following Taylor’s death on April 26, 1981, the flags above the Smithsonian complex were lowered for three days. In addition to his work as President of the College Art Association, Taylor was a member of the nation’s greatest cultural institutions, including the American Federation of the Arts, the Association of Art Museum Directors, and the International Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. He was also named Benjamin Franklin Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Today, the Joshua C. Taylor Fellowship of the Smithsonian Institution provides funding for the next generation of American art museum directors.

The Foundation is very interested in confirming that Joshua C. Taylor is indeed the Monuments Man referenced to on Edith Standen’s list. If you have any information, please contact