Jayna M. Hanson
Scope and Contents
The papers of museum director, art consultant and curator Otto Wittmannn (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 Wittmannn'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 Wittmannn'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 Wittmannn by Richard Candida Smith. Correspondence is mostly personal and with family, friends, and colleagues.
Professional files include Wittmann's files from the Toledo Museum of Art that consist of general operations and administrative files from the director's office. Wittmann'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 Wittmann'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 Wittmann's work for the National Endowment for 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 Wittmannn's service in the Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU) of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services.
Otto Wittmann donated his papers to the Archives of American Art in 1991 and 1995.
The Archives of American Art has an oral history interview with Otto Wittmann conducted by Paul Cummings on August 19-20, 1976, and another conducted by Thomas Carr Howe on October 25, 1976.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.
The Otto Wittmann papers were processed to a minimal level and described by Jayna Hanson in 2012 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. The goal for minimal-level processing at the Archives of American Art is to provide access to collections as quickly as possible while maintaining high standards for arrangement, description and preservation. Generally, materials are minimally rearranged, existing folder titles are retained, and all materials are rehoused in acid-free folders and boxes. Individual items within folders may not be fully arranged or verified for content. Staples and other fasteners may not always be removed, but materials are removed from binders or other damaging housing conditions when necessary.