This past Sunday, February 9, our auditorium was packed to the rafters for our lecture Monuments Man: The Walters’ Marvin Chauncey Ross. Michael Kurtz, National Archives expert, recounted how the “Monuments Men” tracked and located nearly five million European artworks and cultural treasures stolen by Hitler and the Nazis during WWII. Among them was Marvin Chauncey Ross (1904–1977), the Walters’ first Curator of Medieval Art and Subsequent Decorative Arts. Melissa Wertheimer, Walters’ archives assistant, also shared her fascinating discoveries while researching the Marvin Ross papers at the Walters.

More recently, our conservation department has discovered another important connection to the Monuments Men:

George Stout (George Clooney’s character in the movie) was the first conservator at Harvard’s Fogg Museum in 1928.  Soon after, he was asked by the Walters’ first Board of Directors to help establish our own conservation lab for technical research in 1934.  He also hired our first conservator, David Rosen, in ‘34.  Stout was not paid for his time – he was the conservation lab’s first volunteer!

George Stout oversees the packing and removal of Michelangelo’s Madonna of Bruges in the mines at Altaussee, Austria, July 1945. Using the best material he could find in the repository, Stout wrapped the statue in Belgian lace. Courtesy National Gallery, Washington, DC, Gallery Archives. From George Stout’s Legacy in Conservation.

For further reading/listening on the Monuments Men: