Two U of M Monuments Men: Walter Huchthausen and Ralph Hammett

Based on a true story, the new movie The Monuments Men, starring George Clooney, Matt Damon and Bill Murray, tells the story of a WWII platoon tasked with rescuing art masterpieces from being destroyed by the Nazis.

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2 ‘Monuments Men’ have Minnesota ties

Thumbnail image for the-monuments-men_movieposter_1391191910.jpgWhile preparing for the School of Architecture centennial celebration in October 2013, staff members at the University of Minnesota School of Architecture uncovered original drawings in the archives by two monuments men:

  • Captain Walter “Hutch” Huchthausen (1904-1945; BArch ’28) joined the University of Minnesota architecture faculty in 1939, where he taught until he enlisted in 1943. He died in April 1945 when he was caught in gunfire while trying to salvage an altar in a German town. His drawing is pictured on the right.
  • Ralph Warner Hammett (1896-1984; BS Arch ’19) graduated from the University of Minnesota and went on to teach at Harvard. During the war he was stationed in Paris, where he set up a card catalog arranged by department, town, and city and listed each monument, art collection, chateau and library. After the war he taught at the University of Michigan until 1965.

You can see work by both men in the exhibit, 100 Years of Student Drawings, opening in April 2014 in the new Northrop Hall Gallery.

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3 comments

  • Ralph Hammett Allen

    I am the grandson of Ralph Warner Hammett. He died in Rochester MN in June 1984. I will be back in Minneaplois this Summer. Is it possible to share information on my grandfather. We found his notebook/diary from the summer and fall of 1944 and he was one of the first Monument Men and one of first 3 in France. Ralph Hammett Allen

    • Perry McGowan

      We continue the work of R.W.Hammett at the Blue Shield. Ralph, I would appreciate your contacting me at uscbs.org. I look forward to the exhibit and seeing the new gallery. Best Regards

  • Lucia Wilkes Smith

    My mother’s name was Lucia Helena Dorothea Huchthausen Possehl (1914-2009). Her father and Walter J. Huchthausen’s father were brothers and, 1923-1927, pastors together at Trinity First Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, and Walter’s father, Julius, continued at that church after the death of Johannes in 1927. When Walter J. Huchthausen went overseas, he left some of his personal possessions in the attic of my parents. This included the watercolor scene “Mona Island, West Indies, 1937” that is included in the Star Tribune article by Rick Nelson.
    http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/style/244299831.html
    After seeing the premiere of the Hollywood movie, “The Monuments Men,” I wrote the Commentary Page article for the Star Tribune found at this link:
    http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/244800641.html.
    Looking forward to the April exhibit.
    Lucia Wilkes Smith, Minneapolis
    U of MN, BS 1967, MA 1974