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Oral History Collection from the Archives of American Art

Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

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Oral History Collection from the Archives of American Art

Oral History Collection from the Archives of American Art

Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

2
Followers
2
Plays
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About Us

The Smithsonian's Archives of American Art enlivens the extraordinary human stories behind America's most significant art and artists. It is the preeminent and most widely used resource dedicated to collecting, preserving, and making available for study the papers and other primary records of the visual arts in America.

Latest Episodes

George Leslie Stout interview excerpt

George Leslie Stout (1897-1978) was a museum director and prominent art conservator in Massachusetts. Stout was one of the first U.S. soldiers to be assigned to the MFAA Section and played a prominent role in the recovery of art work stolen by the Nazis. He was appointed Lieutenant Commander of the MFAA unit and supervised the inventorying and removal of looted artwork hidden in the salt mines of Merkers and Ransbach in Thuringia, Germany and in other repositories in France and the Netherlands. In this audio clip Stout speaks of his experience as a MFAA officer, especially the poor storage conditions in the salt mines.

44 MIN2013 NOV 22
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George Leslie Stout interview excerpt

Stanton L. Catlin interview excerpt

Stanton L. Catlin (1915-1997) was assistant director of Yale University Art Gallery and later the gallery director and professor at Syracuse University. Before the World War II, Catlin was introduced to Rose Valland, who was the assistant to the director of the Jeu de Paume Museum. During World War II, Valland spied on the Nazis who used the Jeu de Paume Museum as a storage location for looted art before transporting the artwork by train to various German repositories scattered throughout Germany and Austria. In this audio excerpt, Catlin talks about Valland's contributions to the recovery of artwork plundered by the Nazis.

4 MIN2013 NOV 22
Comments
Stanton L. Catlin interview excerpt

S. Lane Faison interview excerpt

Samson Lane Faison Jr. (1907-2006) was an art history professor at Williams College, Massachusetts. During World War II, Faison enlisted and served in the Naval Air Force. From 1945 to 1946, Faison was a member of the Office of Strategic Services Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU), finding and recovering art stolen by the Nazis. In this audio clip, Faison discusses his exploits as a Monuments Men, starting with the phone call asking him to join the ALIU and later working as the director of the Munich Central Collecting Point, one of several locations established by the U.S. State Department to gather the recovered art for repatriation.

8 MIN2013 NOV 22
Comments
S. Lane Faison interview excerpt

Walker Hancock interview excerpt

Walker Kirtland Hancock (1901-1998) was a prominent sculptor who taught at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1929 to 1967. Hancock was drafted into the Army in 1942 and initially trained as a medic. After being transferred to military intelligence at the Pentagon, Hancock requested to join the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives (MFAA) section of the U.S. Army where he felt he could do the most good In this audio clip, Hancock talks about locating and recovering looted art repositories found in the salt mines.

24 MIN2013 NOV 22
Comments
Walker Hancock interview excerpt

Thomas Carr Howe interview excerpt

Thomas Carr Howe (1904-1994) was the director of the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco for nearly four decades. During World War II, Howe enlisted and was a U.S. Naval Lieutenant before being assigned to the MFAA Section, serving from 1945 to 1946 in Germany and Austria. In this audio clip, Howe talks about locating large caches of art work that had been looted by the Nazis in the salt mines and the postwar restitution efforts and returning the artwork to their countries of origin.

34 MIN2013 NOV 22
Comments
Thomas Carr Howe interview excerpt

Charles Parkhurst interview excerpt

Charles Parkhurst (1913-2008) was an art administrator and curator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. During World War II, Parkhurst was a U.S. Naval Lieutenant and was later appointed Deputy Chief of the MFAA section in Germany. He helped organize the repatriation efforts in postwar Germany at the Munich Central Collecting Point, where the art was collected for restitution to their countries of origin. In this audio clip, Parkhurst talks about art looting by the Nazis and the Wiesbaden Manifesto, signed by Parkhurst and many other Monuments Men, protesting the removal of German-owned artworks to the United States for safekeeping after the war.

14 MIN2013 NOV 22
Comments
Charles Parkhurst interview excerpt

Andrew Carnduff Ritchie interview excerpt

Andrew Carnduff Ritchie (1907-1978) was an art administrator and art historian. He was a research assistant and lecturer at the Frick Collection, then the director of the Albright Art Gallery in New York from 1942. After World War II, Ritchie served as a MFAA advisor at the Munich Central Collecting Point where he supervised the restitution of artwork, notably Vermeer's The Art of Painting, which was owned by the Czernin family up until the war. In this audio clip, Ritchie talks about the highlights of his MFAA experiences, especially the fate of the "Czernin Vermeer" and his experience transporting the Imperial Regalia of the Holy Roman Empire from Nuremberg to Vienna.

13 MIN2013 NOV 22
Comments
Andrew Carnduff Ritchie interview excerpt

Otto Wittmann 1981 interview excerpt

Otto Wittmann (1911-2001) was a curator and director of the Toledo Museum of Art from 1959-1976. During World War II, Wittmann served as a Major with the Air Force but was later transferred to the Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU) in Washington, D.C. under the Office of Strategic Services. As an ALIU official, Wittmann assisted with looted art recovery in Paris and Munich, investigated transactions in Sweden and Switzerland, and worked with the collection centers in France. In this excerpt, Wittmann talks about his work restituting art looted by the Nazis.

4 MIN2013 NOV 22
Comments
Otto Wittmann 1981 interview excerpt

Otto Wittmann 1976 interview excerpt

Otto Wittmann (1911-2001) was a curator and director of the Toledo Museum of Art from 1959-1976. During World War II, Wittmann served as a Major with the Air Force but was later transferred to the Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU) in Washington, D.C. under the Office of Strategic Services. As an ALIU official, Wittmann assisted with looted art recovery in Paris and Munich, investigated transactions in Sweden and Switzerland, and worked with the collection centers in France. In this excerpt, Wittmann talks about his work restituting art looted by the Nazis.

25 MIN2013 NOV 22
Comments
Otto Wittmann 1976 interview excerpt

Gilbert Luján interview excerpt

The "Los Four" exhibition—considered the first Chicano art exhibition in a Los Angeles museum—opened at the Art Gallery at University of California, Irvine in 1973 and then traveled to the L.A. County Museum of Art (LACMA) in 1974. In this interview, founding member of the Los Four art collective, Gilbert "Magu" Luján, described the show's unexpected success.

1 MIN2013 NOV 1
Comments
Gilbert Luján interview excerpt

Latest Episodes

George Leslie Stout interview excerpt

George Leslie Stout (1897-1978) was a museum director and prominent art conservator in Massachusetts. Stout was one of the first U.S. soldiers to be assigned to the MFAA Section and played a prominent role in the recovery of art work stolen by the Nazis. He was appointed Lieutenant Commander of the MFAA unit and supervised the inventorying and removal of looted artwork hidden in the salt mines of Merkers and Ransbach in Thuringia, Germany and in other repositories in France and the Netherlands. In this audio clip Stout speaks of his experience as a MFAA officer, especially the poor storage conditions in the salt mines.

44 MIN2013 NOV 22
Comments
George Leslie Stout interview excerpt

Stanton L. Catlin interview excerpt

Stanton L. Catlin (1915-1997) was assistant director of Yale University Art Gallery and later the gallery director and professor at Syracuse University. Before the World War II, Catlin was introduced to Rose Valland, who was the assistant to the director of the Jeu de Paume Museum. During World War II, Valland spied on the Nazis who used the Jeu de Paume Museum as a storage location for looted art before transporting the artwork by train to various German repositories scattered throughout Germany and Austria. In this audio excerpt, Catlin talks about Valland's contributions to the recovery of artwork plundered by the Nazis.

4 MIN2013 NOV 22
Comments
Stanton L. Catlin interview excerpt

S. Lane Faison interview excerpt

Samson Lane Faison Jr. (1907-2006) was an art history professor at Williams College, Massachusetts. During World War II, Faison enlisted and served in the Naval Air Force. From 1945 to 1946, Faison was a member of the Office of Strategic Services Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU), finding and recovering art stolen by the Nazis. In this audio clip, Faison discusses his exploits as a Monuments Men, starting with the phone call asking him to join the ALIU and later working as the director of the Munich Central Collecting Point, one of several locations established by the U.S. State Department to gather the recovered art for repatriation.

8 MIN2013 NOV 22
Comments
S. Lane Faison interview excerpt

Walker Hancock interview excerpt

Walker Kirtland Hancock (1901-1998) was a prominent sculptor who taught at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1929 to 1967. Hancock was drafted into the Army in 1942 and initially trained as a medic. After being transferred to military intelligence at the Pentagon, Hancock requested to join the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives (MFAA) section of the U.S. Army where he felt he could do the most good In this audio clip, Hancock talks about locating and recovering looted art repositories found in the salt mines.

24 MIN2013 NOV 22
Comments
Walker Hancock interview excerpt

Thomas Carr Howe interview excerpt

Thomas Carr Howe (1904-1994) was the director of the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco for nearly four decades. During World War II, Howe enlisted and was a U.S. Naval Lieutenant before being assigned to the MFAA Section, serving from 1945 to 1946 in Germany and Austria. In this audio clip, Howe talks about locating large caches of art work that had been looted by the Nazis in the salt mines and the postwar restitution efforts and returning the artwork to their countries of origin.

34 MIN2013 NOV 22
Comments
Thomas Carr Howe interview excerpt

Charles Parkhurst interview excerpt

Charles Parkhurst (1913-2008) was an art administrator and curator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. During World War II, Parkhurst was a U.S. Naval Lieutenant and was later appointed Deputy Chief of the MFAA section in Germany. He helped organize the repatriation efforts in postwar Germany at the Munich Central Collecting Point, where the art was collected for restitution to their countries of origin. In this audio clip, Parkhurst talks about art looting by the Nazis and the Wiesbaden Manifesto, signed by Parkhurst and many other Monuments Men, protesting the removal of German-owned artworks to the United States for safekeeping after the war.

14 MIN2013 NOV 22
Comments
Charles Parkhurst interview excerpt

Andrew Carnduff Ritchie interview excerpt

Andrew Carnduff Ritchie (1907-1978) was an art administrator and art historian. He was a research assistant and lecturer at the Frick Collection, then the director of the Albright Art Gallery in New York from 1942. After World War II, Ritchie served as a MFAA advisor at the Munich Central Collecting Point where he supervised the restitution of artwork, notably Vermeer's The Art of Painting, which was owned by the Czernin family up until the war. In this audio clip, Ritchie talks about the highlights of his MFAA experiences, especially the fate of the "Czernin Vermeer" and his experience transporting the Imperial Regalia of the Holy Roman Empire from Nuremberg to Vienna.

13 MIN2013 NOV 22
Comments
Andrew Carnduff Ritchie interview excerpt

Otto Wittmann 1981 interview excerpt

Otto Wittmann (1911-2001) was a curator and director of the Toledo Museum of Art from 1959-1976. During World War II, Wittmann served as a Major with the Air Force but was later transferred to the Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU) in Washington, D.C. under the Office of Strategic Services. As an ALIU official, Wittmann assisted with looted art recovery in Paris and Munich, investigated transactions in Sweden and Switzerland, and worked with the collection centers in France. In this excerpt, Wittmann talks about his work restituting art looted by the Nazis.

4 MIN2013 NOV 22
Comments
Otto Wittmann 1981 interview excerpt

Otto Wittmann 1976 interview excerpt

Otto Wittmann (1911-2001) was a curator and director of the Toledo Museum of Art from 1959-1976. During World War II, Wittmann served as a Major with the Air Force but was later transferred to the Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU) in Washington, D.C. under the Office of Strategic Services. As an ALIU official, Wittmann assisted with looted art recovery in Paris and Munich, investigated transactions in Sweden and Switzerland, and worked with the collection centers in France. In this excerpt, Wittmann talks about his work restituting art looted by the Nazis.

25 MIN2013 NOV 22
Comments
Otto Wittmann 1976 interview excerpt

Gilbert Luján interview excerpt

The "Los Four" exhibition—considered the first Chicano art exhibition in a Los Angeles museum—opened at the Art Gallery at University of California, Irvine in 1973 and then traveled to the L.A. County Museum of Art (LACMA) in 1974. In this interview, founding member of the Los Four art collective, Gilbert "Magu" Luján, described the show's unexpected success.

1 MIN2013 NOV 1
Comments
Gilbert Luján interview excerpt
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