Archives Receives Grant from Samuel H. Kress Foundation

By the Archives
July 2, 2012

The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art has been awarded $100,000 by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation’s Digital Resources grant program to support a project to preserve, arrange and create Web-searchable online electronic finding aids for 10 archival collections that are central to provenance research for the history of art during World War II. The project will also digitize one of the most significant newly processed collections in its entirety, as well as selected documents from additional collections. Once completed, this body of resources will provide contextual online access via a dedicated Web page, greatly expanding World War II-era art provenance research resources available. This material will become easily accessible to millions of worldwide users who consult the Archives of American Art’s website.

Recovery of looted artworks, 1945, unidentified photographer

Four men carrying a crate of recovered artworks, previously looted by the Nazis, down a staircase at Neuschwanstein Castle, 1945. Unidentified photographer. James J. Rorimer papers, Archives of American Art.

The Archives will create detailed online finding aids for the historical records of Schaeffer Galleries and World House Galleries, as well as the personal papers of museum professionals, art historians and World War II Monuments Men S. Lane Faison, Walter Horn, Thomas Carr Howe, J.B. Neumann, Perry Townsend Rathbone, James J. Rorimer, George Leslie Stout and Otto Wittmann, greatly expanding the amount of information available to researchers about the contents of these collections.

A complementary exhibition Monuments Men: On the Frontline to Save Europe’s Art, 1942–1946, will be on view in the Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery, Washington, DC, February 7 to April 20, 2014.

A dedicated Web page will provide brief summary descriptions of the individual collections processed during the project with links to their respective online finding aids, as well as links to relevant oral-history interviews and related collections, such as the records of Perls Galleries and Jacques Seligmann & Co. This page will be part of the Archives’ website that provides unprecedented access to online exhibitions, oral history transcripts, finding aids and guides, digital images and collections and other research services.

The Archives of American Art is the world’s preeminent resource dedicated to collecting and preserving the papers and primary records of the visual arts in America.

Visit the project page to learn moreSamuel H. Kress Foundation provides funds to enhance access to the Archives’ World War II provenance research collections