“Monuments Man” who rescued WW II artwork dies
By George Basler
VESTAL — Kenneth Lindsay, 89, a former Binghamton University professor who helped save Europe’s artwork from destruction and theft after World War II, died Monday at Wilson Regional Medical Center in Johnson City.
Lindsay, who taught art history at the university for 40 years, was one of several hundred men and women who worked in the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section of the U.S. Army that saved tens of thousands of artworks and monuments from Hitler and the Nazis and helped return them to their owners.
Lindsay was interviewed for the 2006 documentary film, “The Rape of Europa” that told the story of Hitler’s destruction and the work of “the Monuments Men,” as they were nicknamed by American GIs.
“He was an inspiring and inspired teacher,” said former student Susan Stein, a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. “His example remained for me a touchstone in my life and career.”
Lindsay began teaching art history at Binghamton University in 1951 at the urging of his cousin Ralph Digman, a geology professor for whom Digman Hall was later named. Lindsay chaired the department for 17 years and helped build its slide and gallery collection before retiring in 1989. He was named a professor emeritus.
Lindsay was a teacher who had the ability to communicate a great passion for his subject that inspired students, said Clifford Brown, a former student and retired art history professor in Ontario, Canada.
“He was the most electric lecturer I ever had,” said Dean Porter, another former student and former director of the Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame.
Lindsay was assigned to “the Monuments Men” in 1945 in Wiesbaden, Germany. Perhaps his most memorable find, he said, was a famous statute of the Egyptian queen Neferti, who had been taken from Egypt by the Germans in 1912.
“I’ll never get over the experience,” Lindsay told the Press & Sun-Bulletin two years ago. “Probably the most beautiful woman the world has ever seen.”
He is survived by his wife, Christine, a daughter and son, and two grandchildren. Calling hours will be 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday at DeMunn Funeral Home, 36 Conklin Ave., Binghamton.
Lindsay’s legacy was as a teacher, said Jack Braunstein, director of development for the Binghamton University Art Museum and The Anderson Center: “He wanted to ignite a passion for art in his students, and he did that,” said Braunstein.