The U.S. Army and the Smithsonian Institution have joined forces to create a new team, the Monuments Men and Women for the 21st-century force. This group of cultural heritage scholars and soldiers will carry on the legacy of the team that protected European art from looting and destruction during World War II. Among the first cohort of the new force is FSU Art History PhD student Sonia Dixon, a captain in the U.S. Army Reserves.
Under the new program, Captain Dixon will serve as a cultural heritage preservation officer, tasked with training and supporting soldiers to protect cultural property from destruction or damage during armed conflict. This ensures that U.S. military forces follow their obligation under the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property. Many members of this new elite force are civilian experts in cultural heritage that will receive appointments in the Army Reserves. Dixon brings to the role a unique combination of art historical expertise, a master’s degree in Museum & Cultural Heritage Studies, and her military rank. She writes that she is honored and proud to be part of this international initiative.
“Capt. Sonia Dixon’s appointment to the Monuments Men and Women team is a major accomplishment for her and a point of great pride for us in the College of Fine Arts,” said James Frazier, dean of the College of Fine Arts. “As Capt. Dixon continues progress toward the completion of a Ph.D. in Art History, we are thankful for the contributions she is making to protect art and to preserve culture through this important international endeavor.”
Training for the team is being led by the Smithsonian in September 2020. An inaugural online event to celebrate the new cohort on Wednesday, September 16 at 11 am. The event, hosted by the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative, is free and will include a trailer from a documentary about George Stout, founder of the original Monuments Men team, followed by talks from some of the new members. (Register here.)