2017 Exhibition Marvin Ross: Monuments Man

General Eisenhower inspecting confiscated silver. Courtesy of NARA public domain.





 Marvin Ross: Monuments Man

Celebrate Hammond-Harwood House’s own Monuments Man… and his adventure in the world’s greatest treasure hunt

The exquisite collection of furniture and fine art acquired for the Hammond-Harwood House has benefited from the expertise of trained museum professionals. Marvin Ross (1904-1977), an early trustee, is a prime example. Ross, who was an expert on the Byzantine era, led an extraordinary life as Curator of Medieval and Subsequent Arts at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore and later as the first curator of Hillwood, heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post’s private estate in northwest Washington, D.C. During World War II, Ross was a member of the “Monuments Men”  — the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Section of the Allied Forces. This group of curators, architects, and historians identified and recovered art stolen by Nazi forces.

This special exhibition explores the life of Marvin Ross and features the collection he helped to create as a member of the Hammond-Harwood House furnishings committee in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Through his efforts, the Hammond-Harwood House contains a world-class collection of paintings by the Peale family and furniture made by 18th century Annapolis cabinetmaker John Shaw.

From a report of the furnishings committee, June 1951:

“No one has been more astute in their efforts to keep us before the public than Mr. Marvin C. Ross. He has, as we all know, a most unusual flare for finding beautiful treasures for our old house.”


Exhibition opening for members:  Thursday March 30, 2017, 6pm to 8pm. Wine and appetizers. Exhibition runs April 1 to December 31. Free and open to the public during normal tour hours.

To become a member, please join here.


Exhibitions Related Programming:


A Question of Provenance: Holocaust-era Art, Research, and Restitution with Smithsonian Associates

Wednesday, May 10, 2017 – 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.


S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)

Provenance research on a work of art, a standard museum practice, ideally aims to establish an unbroken chain of ownership from the piece’s creation through the present. In the case of looted artworks, that information can also play a part in its restitution.

However, identifying the rightful or legal owner of a work of art following times of war and genocide—when people, objects, and documents are destroyed or dispersed around the world—is anything but simple. The aftermath of the 2012 discovery of an important cache of potentially looted Nazi-era art in the Munich apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt offers insights into how provenance specialists address the complexity of research to assign ownership.

In a fascinating evening, six art historians unfold stories of the lives of Jewish collectors, German art dealers, and the art-world web that connected them. These experts served on Germany’s international advisory group for the “Schwabinger (Gurlitt) Art Trove” Task Force. They were charged with overseeing research on the horde, which included 1,250 paintings, drawings, and prints by artists like Picasso, Chagall, and Matisse. The collection was amassed by Gurlitt’s father, the now-infamous “degenerate art” dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt, who was himself one-quarter Jewish and an influential promoter of avant-garde European art.

Panelists include Jane Milosch, director, Smithsonian Provenance Research Initiative; Meike Hoffmann, professor, Degenerate Art Research Center, Free University of Berlin, and author of Hitler’s Art Dealer: Hildebrand Gurlitt, 1895–1956; Sophie Lillie, independent scholar and specialist in pre-war private collecting and patronage in Vienna, and author of Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer; Shlomit Steinberg, senior curator of European art, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and curator of two exhibitions on stolen art; Yehudit Shendar, emeritus deputy director and senior art curator, Yad Vashem (The World Holocaust Remembrance Center), Jerusalem; and Andrea Baresel-Brand, scientific coordinator, German Center for Lost Art.

Curator in Conversation: Monuments Man Marvin Ross and the Hammond-Harwood House

Friday, May 12, 2017- noon to 1pm.

World War Two caused the greatest upheaval of cultural property in the history of the modern world. Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party systematically seized artwork for their Furher Museum Hitler planned to build in Linz, Austria. Architectural treasures across Europe were destroyed. Buildings like the Benedictine Abbey at Monte Cassino, Cologne Cathedral, and the Royal Castle in Warsaw lay in ruins.

The Allies formed the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Program to recover stolen art and protect historic buildings. Known as “Monuments Men” this group comprised 345 curators, historians, and sculptors from 13 countries. Their dedication to the preservation of the arts saved thousands of treasures from becoming a casualty of war.

After witnessing the destruction, Monuments Men Deputy Advisor Marvin Ross became concerned with the preservation of America’s own antiquities. Ross joined the furnishings committee of the Hammond-Harwood House in 1948 and created a world-class collection of American paintings by the Peale family and furniture made by 18th century Annapolis cabinetmaker John Shaw. This exhibition showcases the collection Ross created.

In this hour long program Hammond-Harwood House curator, Rachel Lovett, discusses the new exhibition “Marvin Ross: Monuments Man” and her archival research.


Archival Treasures of a Monuments Man: Marvin Ross Before the Hammond-Harwood House

Friday November 10th Noon. Free and Open to the public.


Marvin Chauncey Ross joined the Hammond-Harwood House Furnishings Committee in 1948. As a Trustee, he was instrumental in some of the most valuable acquisitions of 18th-century American furnishings for the museum. But, what about his life before that time? During World War II, Ross was a Monuments Man. Baltimore-based archivist Melissa Wertheimer shares documents from the Marvin Chauncey Ross Papers at the Walters Art Museum to fill in the gaps about Ross’s military service and his contributions to museums in the Maryland-DC region.

Talk will be presented by archivist Melissa Wertheimer, who worked with the Marvin Ross papers at the Walters Art Museum.