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Catalog Data

Rorimer, James J. (James Joseph), 1905-1966  Search this
Rorimer, Katherine S.  Search this
Valland, Rose  Search this
Allied Forces.Supreme Headquarters.Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section  Search this
Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.).Board of Trustees  Search this
Cloisters (Museum)  Search this
Place of publication, production, or execution:
United States
Physical Description:
2.3 linear feet
Access Note / Rights:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Microfilmed materials must be consulted on microfilm. Contact Reference Services for more information.
The papers of curator and museum director James J. Rorimer measure 2.1 linear feet and date from 1923 to 1966, with a few records from 1975 and 1982 and the bulk from 1943-1950. The papers include documentation of James J. Rorimer's World War II service in the Monuments, Fine Art and Archives Section of the U.S. Army and his activities protecting historic and cultural sites from bombing, and locating and recovering art work and cultural icons stolen by the Nazis. Found within the papers are scattered biographical materials and correspondence, writings include draft versions of Rorimer's book, "Safe-Keeping," or "Survival: The Salvage and Protection of Art in War," financial records, photographic materials including a photo album containing photographs of European art work and cultural sites where Rorimer worked, newsclippings and additional printed materials, and one scrapbook of clippings dating from World War II.<br /> Scattered biographical materials include a college transcript and various certificates. Much of the correspondence is comprised of army directives but also includes some personal letters from Rorimer's wife Katherine. <br /> Writings by Rorimer include several drafts of his book, "Survival: The Salvage and Protection of Art in War," which was originally titled, "Safe-Keeping." There is one folder of miscellaneous financial records, mostly dating from Rorimer's time in the army. There is also one folder of minutes of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Board of Trustees meetings. <br /> Photographic materials include black and white photographs, negatives, contact prints, postcards, and one photo album. Many of the images depict European cultural monuments and sites, with notations about damages. There are photographs of Nazi stolen art caches and repositories discovered by Rorimer in locations such as Buxheim monastery and Neuschwanstein castle, recovery and transportation of stolen artwork, and art exhibitions held at the Wiesbaden central collecting point. Also found are related photographs of the exhibitions of the recovered art and some travel photographs. Although there are only a few photographs of people, there are several of Captain Rose Valland dating from 1946. The photograph album was given to Rorimer from the headquarters of the Office of Military Government in Baden-Wurttemberg and is titled, "War Damage in Wurtemmberg: A Selection of Photographs."<br /> Printed materials include newspaper and magazine clippings, mostly related to The Cloisters or the activities and achievements of the Monuments Men. Printed materials also includes bulletins, brochures, and press releases. There is also a war-time scrapbook and two handbooks of maps showing historic monuments and sites in France and Germany.
James J. Rorimer papers, 1921-1982, bulk 1943-1950. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Additional Forms:
Portions of the collection are available on 35 mm microfilm reels 2800-2802 at the Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the arrangement of the material described in the container inventory does not reflect the arrangement of the collection on microfilm.
Related Materials:
Among the holdings of the Archives of American is an oral history interview with Anne Rorimer, James' daughter, conducted in 2010 by the Archives of American Art. The Archives also holds the papers of several members of the World War II Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA) Section of the U.S. Army, including S. Lane Faison, Walker Hancock, Walter Horn, Thomas Carr Howe, George Stout, and Otto Wittman. as well as oral history interviews with some of them.
The official government records for James Rorimer's service during World War II in the MFAA Section of the U.S. Army are maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration.
Biography Note:
James J. Rorimer (1905-1966) was a museum director and art historian from New York City. Rorimer was the motivating force in the development of the Cloisters. Educated at Harvard University and the Ecole Gory in Paris, his employment by the Metropolitan Museum of Art began in 1927 and continued until his death. He was curator of the Department of Medieval Art (1934-1955), director of the Cloisters (1949-1966) and director and trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1955-1966). During WWII, Rorimer served in the Monuments, Fine Art and Archives Section of the U.S. Army, recovering and protecting hidden and stolen art works (1943-1946).
Language Note:
Some brochures and clippings are in Spanish.
The James J. Rorimer papers were donated to the Archives of American Art by his wife, Katherine Serrell Rorimer, in 2 installments in 1983.
Location Note:
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001
Art treasures in war  Search this
Art thefts  Search this
Cultural property  Search this
Curators  Search this
World War, 1939-1945  Search this
Record number:
Art Theory and Historiography
Data Source:
Archives of American Art