The news that Walter Liedtke was among the victims of the Metro-North train crash on Tuesday night sent shock waves through the Museum. We had all heard about the accident, some considered for a moment who they knew who took that route, but then life continued. The revelation the next morning that among the five people in that first train car was one of our own curators suddenly made the world feel impossibly small. For 35 years, Walter had come and gone from the Met every day, and now that would never happen again.
Walter was an original. Always nattily dressed, his hair just so and his mustache perfect, he seemed to have emerged from another era rather than from an office on the second floor. He was, of course, one of the world's leading scholars of Dutch and Flemish paintings, deeply devoted to his collection, which included the Met's legendary Rembrandts and Vermeers. He knew those pictures like old friends, and described them with an intimacy and spirit that was mesmerizing. In fact, his distinctive voice was among his unique characteristics: careful and deliberate, but somehow lyrical in its unhurried measure. And he had opinions: deep, strong, expressive opinions. Those opinions and his vigor in delivering them will be among the many things that we will miss.
We have included links here to Walter's obituary, to the many tributes that outline his significant accomplishments as a curator and scholar, and to some of the wonderful videos we have of him talking about works of art. Those achievements will be his legacy. But I also want people to understand that this was a man who was part of something much bigger, a Museum that considers its staff family. We work together and we grow together, we strive and we celebrate together. And today, we mourn together for a friend and colleague who will be long remembered by us all.
We welcome comments below, which we will share with Walter's family.
"Walter Liedtke, Curator at Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dies at 69" (The New York Times, February 4, 2015)
Connections: "Living with Vermeer" (2011)
82nd & Fifth: "The Choice" (2013)
"In Memoriam: Walter Liedtke, Curator of European Paintings, Metropolitan Museum of Art" (DutchCultureUSA.com, February 4, 2015)
"Remembering Walter Liedtke, Metropolitan Museum Curator Killed in Metro-North Train Crash" (Artnet, February 5, 2015)
"In Honor of Curator Walter Liedtke, Vermeer's 'View of Delft' at the Mauritshuis is the Daily Pic by Blake Gopnik" (Artnet, February 6, 2015)
"Walter Liedtke: A Reflection and Appreciation" (The Wall Street Journal, February 6, 2015)
"Walter Liedtke, Consummate Curator of Dutch and Flemish Painting, Dies in a Train Crash" (CultureGrrl, February 4, 2015)
"Tribute: Walter Liedtke" (The Leonard Lopate Show, February 6, 2015)
"Remembering Walter Liedtke" (LINEA, February 12, 2015)