Art in the Time of War: Cranbrook’s Monuments Men

Monuments Men, opening today in theaters, chronicles the efforts of men and women in the US military to protect and preserve Europe’s artistic and cultural patrimony during World War II. Directed by George Clooney, the film has brought to national attention the work of these non-traditional soldiers, arts and cultural professionals who recognized that while the world was tangled in a struggle that engulfed countries and cost thousands of lives, the art and artifacts prized for centuries by those communities were equally at risk.

With the renewed attention to the work of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Section (MFAA)—nicknamed the “Monuments Men”—has come the realization at museums across the country that many of their early directors and curators were active members of the MFAA during World War II.  At Cranbrook we’ve uncovered the stories of two Monuments Men who played a role in our own history.

Robert S. Davis at Cranbrook, 1942. Cranbrook Archives.

Richard S. Davis at Cranbrook, 1942. Cranbrook Archives.

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