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Born in northern Ohio, Walter Farmer earned a degree in architecture from Miami University in 1935 and went to work for the interior design firm A. B. Closson Company in Cincinnati.

In 1942, Farmer entered the U.S. Army Medical Corps before becoming an officer with the 373rd Engineers General Service Regiment. Posted first in England, he was sent to Normandy to aid in rebuilding after D-Day. In July 1945, Farmer joined the Monuments Men and was put in charge of the Central Collecting Point in Wiesbaden, Germany, which housed thousands of artworks recovered at the end of the war. From that post, Farmer protested the transfer of the “Berlin 202” by assembling his colleagues to draft the Wiesbaden Manifesto. 

After his military service, Farmer moved to Houston, where he married Renate Hobirk, a German citizen who had worked with him in Wiesbaden as an interpreter and secretary. In 1948, Farmer cofounded Houston’s Contemporary Arts Museum. Returning to Cincinnati in 1952, Farmer began a long career as an interior decorator and owner of Greenwich House Interiors. He lectured on design and decorative arts at the Cincinnati Art Museum, to which he donated artworks throughout his life. In 1978 he co-founded and was a major donor to the Miami University Art Museum. 

In the 1990s, with the resurgence of interest in the fate of art during and after World War II, Farmer was increasingly recognized for his service as a Monuments Man. He was awarded Germany’s Federal Cross of Merit in 1996.  

There are five works of art in this section.