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U.S. Sen. Blunt Travels Missouri Touting Legacy Of Monuments Men

Laura Spencer

During World War II, nearly 350 men and women, known as the Monuments Men, worked to protect and restore millions of cultural artifacts. This group of art curators and historians recovered sculptures and paintings looted by the Nazis, from artists such as Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, and Leonardo da Vinci.

In December, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt sponsored legislation to award them the Congressional Gold Medal. Blunt's touring Missouri, visiting sites with ties to the Monuments Men, including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR
Antonia Boström (at left), director of curatorial affairs, looks on as researcher MacKenzie Mallon walks Sen. Blunt through the exhibit of archival materials.

In the Bloch Building, Sen. Blunt stands near a glass case with newspaper clippings, photographs, and letters from the archives. The display highlights the six Monuments Men affiliated with the museum, including two directors.

Blunt says it’s an important history and legacy. "Their effort became a different effort than anybody had anticipated," he says. "It went beyond from saving the art and architecture in place, to trying to find the art and architecture and sculpture that had been taken away."

The legislation is co-sponsored by six U.S. senators, including Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas.

Only five Monuments Men are still living. If Blunt's bill passes, the Congressional Gold Medals awarded will be housed at the Smithsonian.

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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