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Otto Wittmann papers, 1932-1996

Wittmann, Otto, 1911-2001

Museum director

Collection Information

Size: 10.1 linear feet

Summary: The papers of museum director, art consultant and curator Otto Wittmann (1911-2001) date from 1932 to 1996 and measure 10.1 linear feet. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence and other files concerning Wittmann's career as Director of the Toledo Museum of Art and as trustee and acting chief curator of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Eleven scrapbooks contain materials primarily relating to the activities of the Toledo Museum of Art, but also contain documentation of Wittmann's World War II service in the Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU) of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the present day CIA. Also found within the papers are files relating to his work with the National Endownment of the Arts, Arts and Artifacts Indemnification Committee, scattered biographical information, and personal correspondence.
Biographical information includes a biographical sketch and an index of an interview of Wittmann by Richard Candida Smith. Correspondence is mostly personal and with family, friends, and colleagues.
Professional files include Wittman's files from the Toledo Museum of Art that consist of general operations and administrative files from the director's office. Wittman's role as an art consultant and advisor to the Owens Corning Fiberglass Corporation is documented, as well as his many affliations with professional arts associations, arts organizations, and other museums and institutions.
Files documenting Wittman's consulting and curatorial work for the Getty Museum are arranged in a separate series and consist of chronological correspondence and scattered expense reports. Correpondence concerns the development of the Getty Museum's early art collecting policy and the general formation of the museum.
There seven files relating to Wittman's work for the National Endowment of the Arts, Arts and Artifacts Indemnification Committee.
Eleven scrapbooks dating from 1932 to 1977 focus on a variety of subjects, including the Hyde Collection, Skidmore College, the U.S. Army Air Force, the Toledo Museum of Art, and the Getty Museum. Found within the scrapbooks are mixed formats, such as correspondence, biographical information, clippings, brochures, and photographs. The scrapbook dating from 1932 to April 1959 contains scattered photographs from Wittmann's service in the Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU) of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services.

Biographical/Historical Note

Otto Wittmann (1911-2001) was director of the Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo Ohio from 1959-1976. Wittmann received his undergraduate degree in Fine Arts from Harvard in 1933. He served in the Air Force as a counterintelligence officer working on restitution of art works stolen by the Nazis, working in both Paris and Munich. He began work at the Toldedo Musem of Art in 1946 as associate director, and became director in 1959 and retired in 1977. In 1978, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles hired Wittmann as an acquisitions consultant Within a year, he was appointed to trustee and, shortly thereafter, as acting chief curator until 1983. The Getty named Wittmann a trustee emeritus in 1989.


Otto Wittmann donated his papers to the Archives of American Art in 1991 and 1995.

Related Materials


Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.