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Grier, Capt. Harry D. | Hall, Ardelia R. | Hammond, Lt. Col. Mason

Hall, Ardelia R.  

Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archive (MFAA) Officer, U.S. State Department Fine Arts & Monuments Advisor

In 1945, the Roberts Commission appointed Ardelia Hall as Consultant in the Division of Cultural Cooperation for Japan and Korea. In this role she acted as a liaison between the commission and the MFAA officers in the Pacific Theater. Hall was soon transferred to Europe, where she briefly served as an MFAA officer. Upon her return home, she began working as the Fine Arts & Monuments Adviser to the U.S. State Department, where she remained until her retirement in 1964. During her career, Hall was the dominant force behind the American restitution effort at the State Department. According to her successor, Ely Maurer, she was “a persistent and zealous person, passionate in her attempts to recover stolen cultural property, and she succeeded greatly in that effort.” In the years after the war, Hall foresaw the coming problems of looted artworks circulating in the art market, and strove to prevent museums and dealers from purchasing such works. She republished a Roberts Commission document and sent it to all museums, university art faculties, and art dealers along with a warning to watch for looted items and report them to the government. Sixty-six such cases were eventually reported to the State Department, comprised of over 1600 works of art.

As Chief of the Office of International Information and Cultural Affairs, Hall worked closely with her counterparts still in Europe working on restitutions from the Collecting Points. She kept detailed records which document the “recovery and return to their countries of origin of cultural objects dispersed during the war.” Documentation of settlements of cultural properties under U.S. control, international protection of artistic and historic property, and the displacement of Austrian and German Jewish libraries can be found in her records. Hall’s papers also include reports of the MFAA officers, restitution and intelligence efforts, and records of the several Collecting Points, including over 50,000 photographic property cards documenting the items stored in the Munich Collecting Point. Her records, entitled “Art Looting and Nazi Germany: Records of the Fine Arts and Monuments Adviser, Ardelia Hall, 1945-1961,” are at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, with duplicates kept in the Photographic Archives of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Getty Research Institute.


Copyrighted by Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art