Posts Tagged 'World War II'

From the Archives: The Museum During WWII

“No annual report, no discussion of affairs, at this time, can ignore the one major fact of this year: we are at war.”

This is the opening sentence of the Report of the Director, dated April 9, 1942, and published in the May-June 1942 Bulletin. The report goes on to describe the effects of the first months of WWII on the Museum. It sparked my interest to investigate how the Museum prepared for and supported the war effort.

Two service men at an exhibition of war posters

Two service men at an exhibition of war posters

I discovered that while many east and west coast museums focused on civil defense preparations, the DMFA (Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, which would later become the DMA) was able to focus its wartime efforts on offering cultural programs of wide general appeal, including exhibitions, musical performances, movies, gallery talks, art classes, and recreational activities. These programs were designed to support the service men and women stationed in the area and boost morale among the civilian residents of Dallas.

Twenty exhibitions representing the part that art plays in the war effort were assembled from army camps and individual artists in the Service and were held between 1942 and 1945.

Prints by British Artists in Service, July 1942
Red Cross Poster Exhibition, August 1942
British and American War Posters, September 1942
Art in War, July 4-August 8, 1943
Exhibition of Work by Soldiers from Camp Maxey, September 12-October 3, 1943
John Knott: War Cartoons, October 3-November 7, 1943
War Posters, October 10-31, 1943
Lt. Bill Lumpkins: Watercolors, December 1-21, 1943
Speak Their Language: British and American Cartoons, March 19-April 3, 1944
Pfc. Benham Dangers: Alaska Paintings, June 18-July 11, 1944
Costumes of 7 American Wars, June 18-July 16, 1944

The World War II section of the exhibition Costumes of Seven American Wars

The World War II section of the exhibition Costumes of Seven American Wars

Fred Darge: Paintings of Bougainville, July 2-August 1, 1944
Paintings from Camp Barkley, July 9-August 13, 1944
Alexandre Hogue: Aviation Production Drawings, October 15-November 3, 1944
[Pfc.] Walt Wiggins: Photographs, December 3-28, 1944
The Abbott Collection: Paintings of Naval Aviation, December 10, 1944-January 9, 1945

The Abbott Collection included over 100 paintings and drawings by seven nationally known American artists depicting the varied phases of naval aviation from pre-flight to combat. The artists visited Naval Air Stations and lived and talked with students, instructors, and fighter pilots in order to produce this important historical record of the Navy.

Mayor Woodall Rogers and Dr. Umphrey Lee, president of Southern Methodist University, view the Naval Aviation paintings with a group of Waves

Mayor Woodall Rodgers and Dr. Umphrey Lee, president of Southern Methodist University, view the Naval Aviation paintings with a group of Waves

Paintings from Frederick Army Air Field, December 31, 1944-January 30, 1945
Ben Culwell: War Paintings, March 4-16, 1945
Army Arts Exhibition-8th Service Command, April 29-May 13, 1945

The Army Arts exhibition included 191 works from 800 entries submitted. The jury consisted of Lt. Col. Ward Lockwood, Major Louis D. Smith, Lt. T.A. Reeves, Jr., DMFA Director Jerry Bywaters, and Dallas artist Allie Tennant. A national jury visited the Museum and chose 30 works to represent the 8th Service Command in the national exhibition in Washington, D.C.

War Bond House Organ Cover Designs Exhibition, July 15-29, 1945

Members of the Armed Services at the Sunday Canteen sponsored by the Museum League

Members of the Armed Services at the Sunday Canteen sponsored by the Museum League

In addition to programming, the Museum League sponsored a canteen for members of the Armed Services in the Museum’s Lounge every Sunday afternoon. The canteen is noted as one of the most appreciated activities by service men and women far from home. The Museum League also sold defense stamps, put on special events for soldiers and their wives, and generally worked to bring the Museum to the attention of those in the Armed Services.

Certificate of appreciation for the museum's wartime support from the United Stated Marine Corps, presented to Jerry Bywaters.

Certificate of appreciation for the Museum’s wartime support from the United Stated Marine Corps, presented to Jerry Bywaters

Hillary Bober is the Archivist at the Dallas Museum of Art.

 

 

ARTifacts: Our Own Monuments Man

Did you know that a former DMA director was a Monuments Man?

DMFA Director Richard Foster Howard (1935-1942)

DMFA Director Richard Foster Howard (1935-42)

Richard Foster Howard was director of the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts from December 1935 to May 1942. Howard arrived in Dallas to oversee the completion of the new museum in Fair Park and the grand Texas Centennial exhibition in 1936. He would go on to assemble the exhibition for the Pan-American Exposition in 1937 and start the Texas General, an annual juried exhibition of Texas artists.

Richard Foster Howard (standing) with jurors Xavier Gonzales, Donald Bear, and Frederick Browne judging the Texas section of the "Greater Texas and Pan-American Exposition," 1937

Richard Foster Howard (standing) with jurors Xavier Gonzales, Donald Bear, and Frederick Browne judging the Texas section of the Greater Texas and Pan-American Exposition, 1937

Jurors for the 1941 Texas General exhibition: Richard Foster Howard, John McCrady, Boardman Robinson, and W. Whitzle (L to R)

Jurors for the 1941 Texas General exhibition: (L to R) Richard Foster Howard, John McCrady, Boardman Robinson, and W. Whitzle

Education was a major focus of his tenure as director. Howard started free Saturday classes for children in 1937, began the school tour program with the Dallas Independent School District in 1937-38, established the education department with the hiring of Mrs. Alexandre (Maggie Jo) Hogue as the first full-time supervisor of education in 1939, and founded the Museum’s library in 1940.

During World War II, Howard retired from the Museum to join the army and was made a captain in the Army Field Artillery. He served in the European theater with distinction and returned to Germany in July 1946 as deputy chief of monuments, fine arts, and archives for the Office of Military Government for Germany (U.S.) He served as a Monuments Man until December 1948. For his service in returning works of art removed by Germans during the war, he was awarded the Order of the White Lion of Bohemia by the Czechoslovakian government and the Star of Italian Solidarity by the Italian government.

When Howard returned from Germany, he resumed his museum career, retiring as director of the Birmingham Museum of Art in 1975.

This Friday, learn even more about this special group of men and women with the opening of The Monuments Men movie.

Hillary Bober is the digital archivist at the Dallas Museum of Art.


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