Remembering a local 'Monuments Man'

By Matt Porter

February 18, 2014 Updated Feb 18, 2014 at 7:50 PM EDT

Vestal, NY (WBNG Binghamton) 'The Monuments Men' were an unlikely band of soldiers of artists and academics drafted to protect and preserve priceless works of art in Europe during World War II.

The division of nearly 350 men and women included late local professor Kenneth Lindsay.

Lindsay founded the school of visual arts at Binghamton University after returning from the war.

Former student Dawn Sedor Merrill said he never mentioned his time in Europe.

"I'm sure I would have remembered if he ever told us that," Merrill said. "Because I think it would have impressed me."

Merrill said Lindsay was a very approachable professor always excited about art and its preservation.

"When I go to art museums and I can recognize an artist or maybe a school of art," she said, "I think it's thanks to professor Lindsay."

Historian Jonathan Karp at Binghamton University said the Monuments Men worked to save five million pieces of art.

"They helped to preserve works of modern art that otherwise might have been destroyed in the last stages of the war," Karp said.

The preservation included many priceless works.

"Torah scrolls, sacred books, they raided libraries," Karp said. "With the intention for the most part of destroying most traces of Jewish religion and civilization in Europe."

Karp said Lindsay must have understood the terrible reality if Hitler had succeeded in his mission to eliminate massive amounts of art.

"I think his experience as a 'Monuments Man' made him more keenly aware of the fragility of our heritage," he said.

Lindsay helped start BU's permanent art collection, and a portion of the museum where the collection is displayed is dedicated in his honor.