Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Two senators have secured $500,000 for repairs and renovations to the historic Victoria Pool at Saratoga Spa State Park ahead of its full-time opening on Saturday. State senators Kathy Marchione (R-Halfmoon) and Betty Little (R-Queensbury) will join Louise Goldstein and Andrew Jennings – the co-founders of Save the Victoria Pool Society – at 10:30 a.m. Thursday on Roosevelt Drive in the park to announce the half-million dollars in funding from this year’s New York State budget. The money will be used to make improvements to the Victoria Pool and promote the Victoria Pool Society’s 2014 volunteer drive, Marchione said. “We were shocked when we got the call,” said Goldstein of Saratoga Springs, a long time booster of the stately pool built in 1934. “We’re very grateful to Senator Marchione.” The persistent Save the Victoria Pool Society contacted and met with Marchione to explain the needs at the pool, Goldstein said. The group’s efforts in 2003 moved state leaders to provide $1.5 million in funding to fix the pool and keep it open. “Since we got the original money, there really hasn’t been a lot done,” Goldstein said. She said the pool’s once elegant lobby was dirty and empty of furniture, the site’s iron railings were rusting and lots of other work was needed. Constructed in 1934 during the Great Depression, Victoria Pool was the first heated pool in the United States. “This resource needs to be preserved and protected so future generations can experience and enjoy the full beauty of Victoria Pool,” said Marchione, who faces a challenge from former interim Troy schools superintendent Brian Howard, a Democrat from Troy, in November.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Victoria Pool to open Saturday, 6/7/14. let the moths out of your bathing suits, folks.

Daily Gazette article
Friday, June 6, 2014

June schedule is weekends only
By Justin Mason

Victoria Pool again opens early

— Fans of the Victoria Pool, get ready to make a splash.
Saratoga Spa State Park officials announced they will open the pool on weekends, starting Saturday. The pool will be open Saturdays and Sundays throughout the month, then daily starting June 30.
The early start will mark the second consecutive year the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation has opened the pool the first weekend in June. Last year, the state opened the popular park destination June 1.
Word of the opening was sweet music to Louise Goldstein’s ears. The co-founder of Save the Victoria Pool Society eagerly awaits the opening each year and has tirelessly lobbied park officials to open the landmark earlier than mid- to late June.
Goldstein and her friends make a tradition of catching the first and last day at the pool, plus many others in between. On Saturday, they plan to be there two hours before the pool’s 10 a.m. opening to secure its most precious resources: the forest green lounges and umbrellas.
“We’ll be lining up at 8 o’clock for those white doors to open,” she said Thursday, “then it’ll be a mad dash for the umbrellas and lounges.”
The park’s other pool, the Peerless Pool, will remain closed until June 28. Unlike the predominantly adult crowd that frequents the Victoria Pool, the zero-depth-entry Peerless Pool is typically used by children.
Constructed in 1934, the Victoria Pool was the first heated pool in the country. It is no longer heated but retains its original brick arches and walkways.
A hot spot for New York City Ballet dancers over the years, the pool fell into disrepair during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Goldstein and other fans founded the Save the Victoria Pool Society to push for funding to restore the structure. Then-state parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro committed $1.5 million to restoring the pool in 2005.
The massive overhaul included replacing the pool’s original filtration system, enhancing its landscaping, installing light fixtures and replacing the pool deck.
The Victoria Pool will receive another $500,000 in funding this year as part of $9.5 million in park improvements announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in April. Plans are for various aesthetic improvements, pool deck repairs, roof repairs and improvements to Catherine’s Restaurant, a privately operated business that serves pool-goers and golfers on the adjacent course.
Goldstein still hopes the state will consider opening the Victoria Pool on Memorial Day, when other parks around the region mark the start of the season. But for now, she’ll revel in the thought she and other fans will be basking poolside this weekend.
“Whatever is the magic of the pool, mostly it’s the people and people seeing each other after a long hard winter,” she said.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Saratoga Preservation Society to honor Park(including your Save the Victoria Pool Society) and Saratoga Room, Saratogian 4/27/14.

Preservation Matters: Honoring collaborative spirit of Saratoga Spa State Park and its partners

Shown is a 1932 drawing of the Hall of Springs by architect Joseph H. Freedlander, who designed the Beaux Arts style complex of buildings. Dr. Walter S. McClellan was appointed to be the first medical director of the Park in 1931 and served until 1953. Dr. Walter S. McClellan Collection of the Saratoga Room, Saratoga Springs Public Library.

The former Bottling Plant, built in 1935, was adaptively reused to be the home of the Saratoga Automobile Museum in 2002. Saratoga Automobile Museum
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy at least one aspect of the Saratoga Spa State Park – whether it is to go for a run, take waters from the springs, enjoy a classic car show hosted by the Saratoga Automobile Museum, go to the farmers’ market, see a performance at SPAC or the Spa Little Theater, check out the different exhibits at the National Museum of Dance, play a round of golf, attend an event at the Hall of Springs, take a mineral bath or, my favorite, spend a beautiful summer day at the Victoria Pool.

The Saratoga Spa State Park is considered one of the crown jewels of the New York State Park system, not only because it is a National Historic Landmark, but because of all it has to offer. What we have at the Saratoga Spa State Park is extra special. “Our park” is host to many different venues and activities not by chance, but because of our community.

The park was established in 1909, following the passage of legislation championed by Spencer Trask, Edgar Brackett and George Whitney to protect the springs that were being depleted by excessive pumping of carbonic acid gas and enable the state to purchase land in order to preserve Saratoga’s spring waters. In 1911, the State Reservation at Saratoga Springs was established.

What followed was an ambitious plan to create a public health resort to rival those in Europe. In 1915, the Hudson Valley Railroad Station (today the Saratoga Springs Heritage Area Visitors Center) was built to deliver people by trolley to the original Lincoln Bath building, the first building opened to the public for baths. Mineral baths proved to be so popular, the Washington Bath building was constructed five years later. Between the two buildings, 2,500 clients were served daily.

In 1929, a new Saratoga Springs Commission was appointed by Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt and launched the second phase of development, the creation of a scientific spa that would focus on hydrotherapeutic treatments for a variety of ailments, including cardiac and circulatory disorders, rheumatic conditions, gastrointestinal ailments, nervous conditions, metabolic diseases and non-infectious skin diseases. With the start of construction taking place in 1932 during the Great Depression, the Spa was funded by a $3.2 million grant from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. By 1934, the two Roosevelt Bath buildings, the Simon Baruch Research Institute that included offices, laboratories and an auditorium, the Victoria Pool, the Bottling Plant, Hall of Springs, a nine-hole golf course, and a hotel were built.

For a time, the baths would remain popular. At their peak in 1946, the four bath houses in the park – Lincoln, Washington and Roosevelt 1 & 2 – gave 200,000 baths annually. The decline of passenger railroad use and the rising popularity of the car forever changed people’s travel habits and destinations. Combined with the impact of medical advances, by the late 1950s the popularity of the baths declined significantly and the state gradually reduced its funding for the park. New York state was left with an extensive campus of buildings that no longer had a use that could underwrite their maintenance.

In 1961, the idea of bringing a first-class performing arts center was born. Prominent Saratoga natives collaborated with Harold G. Wilm, NYS Conservation Department Commissioner, to bring the idea to fruition. The state would commit $600,000 for site preparation, parking and walkways, if the citizens of Saratoga accepted responsibility for the estimated $1.8 million construction expenses. Members of the community took on the challenge and through a grass-roots effort were successful in creating a preeminent arts institution that is the envy of communities across the country. Not many parks can say that they are host to internationally acclaimed performers, much less serve as the summer home of the world-class New York City Ballet and Philadelphia Orchestra.

What followed in more recent years was a series of other creative collaborations that have allowed the beautiful park that we know today to be preserved and thrive. The park is now not only home to a dedicated staff; it is home to a diverse group of friends and partners that include a variety of nonprofits and private businesses. The park has adapted from its original single purpose, a health resort, to a diverse mix of attractions. According to Alane Ball-Chinian, regional director for state parks, “this extraordinary level of preservation would have not been possible without a vibrant community within such close proximity that has continually demonstrated its commitment to preserving its historic downtown, neighborhoods and parks.”

The National Museum of Dance and the Saratoga Automobile Museum have each taken historic structures that were no longer serving their original purpose and have successfully adapted them as major cultural destinations. The Friends of the Saratoga Spa State Park and the Save the Victoria Pool Society have been vocal advocates for specific features within the park and have raised funds to assist with projects. The Home Made Theater, Opera Saratoga, New York State Court System, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and the Waldorf School all make use of buildings that would otherwise remain vacant or under-utilized. Various private businesses have also played a critical role in preserving park amenities such as the Spa Golf Course, the Gideon Putnam Hotel, and the Roosevelt Bath House

The Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation invites the community member to join Honorary Chair Cheryl Gold, former assistant regional director for state parks and Saratoga Springs Public Library trustee, in recognizing the Saratoga Spa State Park and its many partners and the Saratoga Room with a Spirit of Preservation Award at 6 p.m. Friday, May 9, at the Saratoga Automobile Museum. The award recognizes those who through their vision and dedication have fostered historic preservation efforts in Saratoga Springs and contributed to the overall quality of life in our city.

That evening, Rose Harvey, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, will present the Spirit of Preservation Award to longtime Chair of New York State Parks Saratoga-Capital District Region Commission Heather Mabee, who will accept the award on behalf of the park and its many partners.

“I’m so incredibly honored to accept this worthy award on the behalf of the park and its partners” Mabee said. Over the years, she has seen the value of these different relationships. “The park is extremely fortunate to have so many of different partners who work together to provide park patrons with a wealth of unique experiences.”

However, according to Ball-Chinian, “the puzzle of public-private partnerships is still not complete.” The state just recently completed a million dollar investment in the long-vacant Roosevelt Bath No. 2 for abatement and to install a new roof and electrical system. “We are ready for the next phase of shared investment to revitalize this magnificent structure and contribute to the park’s appeal as a wonderful multi-faceted destination long into the future.”

I hope you will join me as we recognize the Saratoga Spa State Park and its partners for their commitment to preserving the park’s historic resources and contributing to the overall quality of life of our community.

Tickets are $55 for SSPF members, $65 for non-members, and $40 for those age 40 and younger. The event comprises of an award ceremony and reception with culinary delights from Kim Klopstock’s The Lily and the Rose and cash bar. To purchase tickets or for more information, please visit or call (518) 587-5030.

Samantha Bosshart is executive director of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, a not-for-profit membership-based organization founded in 1977 that promotes preservation and enhancement of the architectural, cultural, and landscaped heritage of Saratoga Springs.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

save the victoria pool society is happy to report good news for our pool. $500,000 for Victoria Pool improvements.

Andrew M. Cuomo - Governor

Governor Cuomo Announces $90 Million to Improve State Parks and Historic Sites Across the State

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Albany, NY (April 22, 2014)

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced New York State will advance 69 projects to improve and repair 53 State parks and historic sites. The projects are part of a $90 million statewide commitment funded in the 2014-15 State Budget, marking the third year of the New York Works initiative to revitalize New York’s State park system, which will help connect our residents to nature, support recreational and tourism opportunities and demonstrate responsible stewardship of our celebrated state park system.

“As we celebrate Earth Day, we continue to invest in our parks and historic sites statewide,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York is proud to have the nation’s oldest State park system, and we will continue to do all that we can to preserve and guard these natural resources so that they can be enjoyed for generations to come.”

Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey said, “Not only will this investment continue to make much needed repairs in cherished State Parks large and small, the Governor’s 21st century transformation of our park system will enhance our environment, preserve our heritage, connect people with healthy, active outdoor recreation, and rev the engines of local economies.”

The initiative provides renewed stewardship of New York State’s flagship State Parks, which highlight the State’s most unique natural treasures and are significant tourism destinations. This year’s funding will launch a multi-year $65 million plan to restore the historic and aesthetic grandeur of Jones Beach State Park on the Long Island Coast; continue a $50 million revitalization of Niagara Falls State Park, the oldest State Park in the nation; and build a nature center at Letchworth State Park to enhance visits to the spectacular gorge known as “the Grand Canyon of the East.”

This is the third year of a sustained commitment to revitalize the State park system launched by Governor Cuomo’s New York Works program. The first two rounds of New York Works leveraged a $265 million investment in the park system, making improvements at 81 State parks and sites.

Senator Betty Little said, "It's fitting that we celebrate Earth Day by celebrating New York State's spectacular park system. These capital dollars are breathing new life into beloved state parks and historic sites, supporting tourism, and helping improve the quality of life in communities across the state."

Assemblywoman Margaret Markey said, “All New Yorkers will be delighted to see this continuing investment in our public parks and historic sites. I am proud we in the Assembly have helped insure that Governor Cuomo’s New York Works program continues to improve and revitalize our precious natural treasures and recreational resources.”

“Thanks to Governor Cuomo and the legislature, New York's state parks are benefiting from one of the greatest periods of investment in their history,” said Erik Kulleseid, executive director of the Open Space Institute’s Alliance for New York State Parks.  “On behalf of the more than 60 million people who visit state parks each year, we are grateful for the sustained commitment to a fully‐restored, vibrant and inviting state park system.”

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 179 state parks and 35 historic sites, which are visited by 60 million people annually. A recent study commissioned by Parks & Trails New York found that New York State Parks generates $1.9 billion in economic activity annually and supports 20,000 jobs. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.

The 2014-15 projects are as follows:

Capital Region: $8.675 million for nine projects in five parks/sites
Cost Estimate
John Boyd Thacher State ParkConstruct Flagship Visitor Center (Matched with Significant Private Fundraising), Featuring New Exhibits, Multi-Purpose Spaces for Gatherings, and Visitor Orientation Services.
Peebles Island State ParkContinue Historic Bleachery Building Stabilization and Restoration
Olana State Historic SiteOlana Historic Site Improvements (Carriage Barn Visitor Restrooms, Security System Upgrades, Climate Control Improvements, Tower Woodwork and Painting.)
Peebles Island State ParkRehabilitate South Bridge (Red-Flagged) and Construct Waterline from Cohoes to Peebles Island
Saratoga Spa State ParkGideon Putnam Hotel Projects, Including Rehabilitation of the Hotel’s Roof
Saratoga Spa State ParkVictoria Pool Area Improvements
Saratoga Spa State ParkExpand Bike Paths
Saratoga Spa State ParkRehabilitate the Existing Geyser Creek Building to Serve as an Environmental Education Building
Harlem Valley Rail TrailConstruct 1.2-Mile Trail Extension, Copake Falls to Orphan Farm Road

Central New York: $5.2 million for five projects in one park
Cost Estimate
Green Lakes State ParkRehabilitate Pine Wood Campground, Including Building Modern Family-Friendly Bathroom/Shower Facility, Updating Electric Service, and Improving Playground
Green Lakes State ParkPark Gateway Improvements, Including Construction of New Park Office, Park Entrance, Park Police Facility, and Creating Safer Traffic Flow
Green Lakes State ParkImprove Park Trails
Green Lakes State ParkSewage Treatment System Improvements (Health and Safety Improvement)
Green Lakes State ParkRehabilitate Golf Course Clubhouse and Pro Shop

Finger Lakes: $7.8 million for 10 projects in six parks/sites
Cost Estimate
Letchworth State ParkConstruct New Nature Center (Matched With Significant Private Fundraising) to Educate Visitors about the Park’s Natural History and Environmental Resources
Sampson State ParkConstruct 16 Full Service Rental Cottages, With Bathrooms, Kitchenettes and Views of Seneca Lake
Hamlin Beach State ParkYanty Marsh Area Improvements, Including New Picnic Area, Boat Launch and Nature Trail
Letchworth State ParkReconstruct Castile Park Entrance
Ganondagan State Historic SiteLandscaping and Site Work for New Seneca Art & Education Center (Matched with Significant Private Fundraising)
Letchworth State ParkRehabilitate Historic Stone Masonry Trails and Stairs (Phase 1)
Letchworth State ParkPark Roadway Repair & Resurfacing
Genesee Valley GreenwayGreenway Trail Improvements
Letchworth State ParkBridge and Road Repairs
Sonnenberg Gardens State Historic SiteEvent Space Improvements

Long Island: $25.58 million for 11 projects in 11 parks
Cost Estimate
Jones Beach State ParkFirst Year of Comprehensive Jones Beach Revitalization Initiative
Robert Moses State ParkRehabilitate Field 5 Swimming Beach Bathhouse
Robert Moses State ParkReplace the Park's Drinking Water Treatment Plant (Health and Safety Improvement)
Hallock State Park PreserveConstruct Visitor Center, “Green” Parking Area, and Access Road and Trails to Provide Public Access to Undeveloped Park (Matched with Significant Private Fundraising)
Multiple ParksReplace Non-Compliant Cesspools in Belmont, Heckscher, Sunken Meadow, Robert Moses and Wildwood State Parks (Health and Safety Improvements)
Hempstead Lake State ParkPark Improvements Plan
Belmont Lake State ParkInstall Energy Efficient HVAC Controls in the Administration Building
Bethpage State ParkImprove Energy Efficiency of the Clubhouse's HVAC System
Orient Beach State ParkReplace Failing Drinking Water Line (Health and Safety Improvement)
Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic ParkConstruct "Green" Parking Area
Multiple ParksTree Planting To Replace Trees Destroyed by Hurricane Sandy

Mid Hudson: $6.27 million for nine projects in eight parks/sites
Cost Estimate
Rockland Lake State ParkRehabilitate the North Swimming Pool Bathhouse
Harriman State ParkContinue Renovation Of Children's Group Camps
FDR State ParkRehabilitate Swimming Pool Bathhouse & Entry Plaza
James Baird State ParkInstall Golf Course Irrigation System to Improve Playing Conditions
Fahnestock State ParkContinue Improvement of the Canopus Lake Welcome Center
James Baird State ParkPark Drinking Water System Improvements (Health and Safety Improvement)
Philipse Manor Hall State Historic SiteRepair Stone Retaining Wall & Stairs
Mills-Norrie State ParkHoyt House Historic Preservation Improvements
Staatsburgh State Historic SiteUpgrade Basement Electrical System (Health and Safety Improvement)

Mohawk Valley: $4.645 million for four projects in four parks/sites
Cost Estimate
Delta Lake State ParkUpgrade the Campground's Water And Electric Systems (Health and Safety Improvement)
Hyde Hall State Historic SiteUpgrade Electric And Install Fire Detection/Security System (Health and Safety Improvement)
Hudson-Mohawk TrailwayReplace Otsquago Creek Bridge in Fort Plain on the Erie Canal Trail (Destroyed by 2013 Flood)
Erie Canalway TrailConstruct 4.6 Miles of Trail to Help Close Gap Between Amsterdam to Pattersonville (State Match of Federal Funds)

New York City: $1.95 million for four projects in two parks/sites
Cost Estimate
Riverbank State ParkCreate Improved Park Setting at 145th Street Bridge and Park Entranceway
Roberto Clemente State ParkBegin Development of New Northern Synthetic Baseball and Football Field (Includes Design Costs)
Riverbank State ParkReplace Ice Rink Building Roof
Riverbank State ParkReplace Buckling Outdoor Basketball Courts

North Country: $4.935 million for eight projects in seven parks/sites.
Cost Estimate
Wellesley Island State ParkReplace Outdated Swimming Beach Concession Building, Restrooms and Picnic Pavilion
Wellesley Island State ParkReplace Electric System, Drinking Water System, and Roadways in the "F" Campground Area (Health and Safety Improvement)
Higley Flow State ParkReplace Aging, Outdated Swimming Beach Bathhouse
Pt. Au Roche State ParkImprove Boat Dock, Parking, and Mooring Area
Jacques Cartier State ParkConstruct Recreational Vehicle Sewage Collection Station (Health and Safety Improvement)
Westcott Beach State ParkUpgrade Sewage Treatment System in Plateau Campground (Health and Safety Improvement)
Rock Island Lighthouse State ParkHistoric Boat House Stabilization and Repairs
Black River TrailExtend Black River Trail 1 Mile Toward Watertown. (State Match of Federal Funds)

Southern Tier: $8.25 million for four projects in four parks/sites
Cost Estimate
Watkins Glen State ParkComplete Redevelopment of Main and North Park Entrances to Improve Aesthetics, Traffic Flow, and Pedestrian Safety
Stony Brook State ParkReplace Failing Drinking Water System (Health and Safety Improvement)
Chenango Valley State ParkRepair and Resurface Park Roadways
Taughannock Falls State ParkStonework and Masonry Repairs - Gorge and Rim Trails
Western New York: $19.2 million for eight projects in seven parks/sites
Cost Estimate
Niagara Falls State ParkContinue Niagara Falls Revitalization Initiative, including Landscape Plan Improvements at Terrapin Point and Construction of New Park Police Station
New State Park on Buffalo WaterfrontConstruct New State Park Improvements, Including Comfort Station, Playground, Picnic Pavilions and Landscaping
Fort Niagara State ParkReplace Deteriorated Swimming Pool Bathhouse
Allegany State ParkRehabilitate Deteriorated Camp Turner Group Camp Cabin Colony
Long Point State ParkConnect to Municipal Sewage System (Health and Safety Improvement)
Allegany State ParkRepair And Resurface Park Roadways
DeVeaux Woods State ParkRepair and Resurface Deteriorated Park Roads
Old Fort Niagara State Historic SiteNext Phase: Historic Fort Masonry Repair

Thursday, February 27, 2014

NYCBallet and SPAC founder, Lincoln Kirstein, was a "Monuments Men".

‘Monuments Men’ soldier helped start SPAC

Ed Burke - The Saratogian 02/20/14 George Balanchine looks over the shoulder of New York City Ballet and SPAC enthusiast Louise Goldstein as she holds a poster of Lincoln Kirstein. Goldstein acquired the posters when the Aldelphi Hotel closed down.

SARATOGA SPRINGS >> One of the U.S. Army’s original “Monuments Men” co-founded the New York City Ballet and was instrumental in the creation of Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

Pfc. Lincoln Kirstein (1907-96) joined the army in 1943 and a year later was named to the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives program, charged with recovering and protecting priceless art looted by the Nazis during World War II.

The “Monuments Men” movie, now playing at Criterion Cinemas in downtown Saratoga Springs, features a character based loosely on Kirstein, the ballet’s general director from 1946-89.

“He was such an important force for arts in this country,” said Louise Goldstein, an avid SPAC booster. “He was here every summer for 30 years. He put ballet on the map in America.”

A Monuments Men Foundation website says Kirstein, while studying at Harvard University, established the Harvard Society for Contemporary Art in 1928. Five years later, Russian choreographer George Balanchine came to the U.S. at Kirstein’s invitation and in 1934 they founded the School of American Ballet.

Shortly after the war, they formed the Ballet Society, which was renamed the New York City Ballet in 1949.

The impetus for SPAC’s foundation started taking shape in 1961, with the goal of it becoming the New York Philharmonic’s summer home. Before long, city ballet became part of the discussions.

By 1963, the philharmonic had dropped out of the picture.

“But the project had a momentum of its own,” SPAC’s website says. “New York City Ballet’s co-founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein helped define both SPAC’s physical form and artistic agenda.”

The stage floor was specifically engineered for the ballet.

“Arnold H. Vollmer designed the floor honoring the wishes of George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein, making the original floor a design marvel,” SPAC’s website says.

Kirstein’s contributions to the Monuments Men are now gaining long-overdue recognition with the movie’s release. He and his commanding Monuments program officer, Capt. Robert Posey, recovered numerous masterpieces from the salt mines at Altaussee, Austria.

A character based on Posey is portrayed by actor Bill Murray in the film.

SPAC opened in 1966. Kirstein received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984, the National Medal of Arts in 1985), and with Balanchine, the National Gold Medal of Merit Award of the National Society of Arts and Letters.

“He was one of the most important people in this country for decades in the arts,” Goldstein said. “He saved art for the world during World War II.”