The Congressional Gold Medal was presented collectively to the Monuments Men Foundation during an Oct. 22 ceremony in Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.
The group received the nation’s highest civilian honor in recognition of its heroic role in the preservation, protection, and restitution of monuments, works of art, and artifacts of cultural importance during and following World War II.
The name “Monuments Men” was given to the men and women who served in the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section under the Allied Armies. Initially, the group was tasked with protecting and temporarily repairing the monuments, churches, and cathedrals of Europe that were damaged due to combat. However, their mission was adapted to identify, preserve, catalogue, and repatriate almost 5,000,000 artistic and cultural items during and following World War II. The Monuments Men saved and recovered some of the world’s most famous pieces of art by such renowned artists as Michelangelo, Johannes Vermeer, Jan van Eyck, Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Leonardo da Vinci.
The Monuments Men Congressional Gold Medal was designed and struck by the United States Mint. The obverse (head side) features a portrayal of soldiers in action, lifting and removing objects from a cave or mine location where Monuments Men discovered stolen works. The artwork depicted represents major works of historic significance the group recovered. The design includes the inscription “MONUMENTS MEN.” The obverse was designed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) artist Joel Iskowitz and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill.
The medal’s reverse (tails side) design features some of the thousands of works of art that were at risk from damage, destruction, or theft by Nazi forces, surrounding the inscriptions “IT IS OUR PRIVILEGE TO PASS ON TO THE COMING CENTURIES TREASURES OF PAST AGES” and “GEN. DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER.” The design also includes the inscription “ACT OF CONGRESS 2014.” The reverse was designed by AIP artist Donna Weaver and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna.
Public Law 113-116, which requires the United States Mint to strike the Monuments Men Congressional Gold Medal, also authorizes the bureau to strike and sell bronze reproductions of the medal. The three-inch medal (product code 15MJ), priced at $39.95, and the 1.5-inch medal (product code 15MK), priced at $6.95, became available for purchase beginning today at 3 p.m. Eastern Time Oct. 22 via the bureau’s online catalog at https://catalog.usmint.gov/ and at 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468). Hearing- and speech-impaired customers with TTY equipment may call 1-888-321-MINT (6468).