Summary

A curator at--and eventually director of--the Metropolitan Museum of Art. During WWII, Rorimer served in the Army's Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section.

Conflict Period:
World War II 1
Branch:
Army 1
Rank:
Lieutenant 2
Rank:
Captain 3
Birth:
07 Sep 1905 4
1905 1
Cleveland, OH 5
Ohio 1
Death:
1966 6
New York, NY 7
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Personal Details

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Person:
James Joseph Rorimer 4
James J Rorimer 1
Level of Education: 4 years of high school 1
Marital Status: Single, without dependents 1
Birth:
07 Sep 1905 3
1905 1
Cleveland, OH 4
Ohio 1
Death:
1966 5
New York, NY 5
Cause: Heart attack 4
Residence:
Place: NewYork County, New York 1
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Birth:
Mother: Edith Rorimer 4
Father: Louis Rorimer 4
Marriage:
Katherine Serrell 2
1942 2
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World War II 1

Branch:
Army 1
Rank:
Lieutenant 2
Rank:
Captain 2
Enlistment Date:
26 May 1943 1
Army Branch:
No branch assignment 1
Army Component:
Selectees (Enlisted Men) 1
Army Serial Number:
32961428 1
Enlistment Place:
New York City New York 1
Enlistment Term:
Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law 1
Military decorations:
Bronze Star, European Theatre Ribbon (4 battle stars), Croix de Guerre (Silver Star), Member of the Legion of Honor, and Officer of the Legion of Honor 2
Source of Army Personnel:
Civil Life 1
Unit:
Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section 6
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Occupation:
Professional occupations, n.e.c. 1
Race or Ethnicity:
White 1
Employment:
Employer: Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) 7
Position: Director and trustee of the Met 7
Place: New York, NY 7
Start Date: 1955 7
End Date: 1966 7
Employment:
Employer: Metropolitan Museum of Art 7
Position: Director of the Cloisters 7
Place: New York, NY 7
Start Date: 1949 7
End Date: 1966 7
Employment:
Employer: Metropolitan Museum of Art 7
Position: curator of the Department of Medieval Art 7
Place: New York, NY 7
Start Date: 1934 7
End Date: 1955 7
Education:
Institution: Harvard 4
Place: Cambridge, Massachusetts 4
From: 1923 4
To: 1927 4
Source Information:
Box Number: 0590 1
Film Reel Number: 2.254 1

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Biography

After graduating from Harvard in 1927, Rorimer went to work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He helped develop the museum’s medieval art collection, including the famous Cloisters, which he became curator of in 1938. In 1943, Rorimer joined the army infantry as a private and soon was transferred to the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section (MFAA), which rescued historical and cultural artifacts across Europe. He rose to head the MFAA of the Seventh US Army, Western Military District. Rorimer most notably was involved with the seizing of art at Neuschwanstein and the Heilbronn mines, as well as the art collections of Göring, Goebbels, and Alfred Rosenberg. After the war, Rorimer returned to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, eventually becoming its director in 1955; he served in that position until his death in 1966.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Excerpt from a letter by Pfc. James B. Alexander to his parents about the MFAA find at Neuschwanstein Castle:

“The inside of the castle from an architectural point of view is hideous. It’s a late nineteenth century interpretation of what a castle should be and the result is rococo, baroque, Romanesque, Italian, Irish, etc. But the stuff that was there! We found rooms full of objets d’art. There were priceless tapestries piled 6 to 8 inches deep on the floor, and room after room of paintings. One room was full of crates and when we opened one of them we found it full of diamond-studded snuff boxes. Lieutenant Rhomer (Rorimer) got so excited over the find that we thought he was going to have a stroke. While we were there a group of G.I.’s drove up and we found that they were going to blow up the place because they were told that it had been used as a military training school.

We had to start back the next morning and Lieutenant Rhomer (Rorimer) caught a plane to Paris to report his find. [. . .]”

(Source: http://www.fold3.com/image/270028167/)

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