Local connection to 'Monuments Men'; movie premieres Friday


Gustave Courbet's 1876 painting 'Source of a Mountain Stream' is one of many works of art, monuments, and treasures rescued from the Nazis during WWII.{}"Not only do we have an opportunity to look at Courbet's important works, by such an important artist, but it makes that link to what those noble individuals saved," said Gail Andrews, Director of the Birmingham Museum of Art.{}Those gallant men, to whom Gail Andrews refers, are 'Monuments Men'.The soldiers were curators, museum directors, art historian charged with protecting and finding works of art captured by Hitler's army.{}"Hitler had planned to build a gigantic museum and he and his troops had gathered works of art from across Europe. They were found in salt mines and warehouses and bunkers and the estates of German officers," said Andrews.{}{}The museum's first art director, Richard Foster Howard, numbered among those tapped to find these treasures. He served as a captain in the field artillery from 1942 to 1946. Howard helped rescue, protect, and restore countless art works during his time in Europe.{}"In 1946, he became deputy chief of the monuments fine arts and archive section. That was the area that was in charge of returning the five million works of art that had been confiscated by Hitler's army," said Andrews.{}Howard became the first director of the Birmingham Museum of Art in 1951 where he completed his career. {}On Friday, movie goers will get a chance to see just how heroic Howard and the other monuments men were.{}Andrews said with the movie and the connection to the Birmingham Museum of Art. {}She hopes audiences will take advantage of the history in their own backyard.{}