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Witness to War

Jun 21, 2013 – Oct 27, 2013
All Day
Past Event
Museum of Art


Witness to War is an exhibition of photographs from The Ringling Museum’s permanent collection and the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience at Florida State University.  It honors U.S. veterans through a gripping visual account of WWII via the lenses of soldier-photographers who documented their first-hand experiences at war.  Comprised of snapshots, candid portraits, and pictures documenting action on the front lines, the photographs from these personal collections gifted by veterans offer us a unique historical perspective of WWII from individual servicemen, a perspective not always in step with officially sanctioned press photographs from the era, or the more iconic World War II photographs that have come to symbolize the War in the public’s consciousness.
Included in the exhibition are a selection of photographs from the Warren J. and Margot Coville Collection.  These images are personal artifacts recording Mr. Coville’s WWII service as part of the U.S. Army Air Force.  Stationed in England as the Allies ramped up aerial raids over Europe, he photographed perilous bombing missions in action from his position within a B-17 “Flying Fortress.”  The Coville collection includes many breath-taking images from those daring raids while other images provide invaluable documentation of the unique culture and daily life of US Airmen during their deployment at this critical moment in history.

Other photographs on loan from the Institute on World War II give testament to global scope of the war, as they document the service and sacrifice of soldiers, sailors, and marines in the European and Pacific theaters.   These photographs from veterans will be displayed alongside signature images by well-known war photographers in order to allow viewers to compare iconic historical images to those often more personal and seldom seen.

The Witness to War exhibition and related programming are part of Legacy of Valor, a campaign that rallies the Sarasota  community to honor veterans, inspire patriotism and embrace freedom. A mosaic of community-driven partnerships will educate, build enthusiasm and focus the community to use time, talent and treasure to recognize the service and sacrifice of all veterans throughout the campaign and beyond. For more information, please visit


The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art has partnered with the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience at Florida State University on Witness to War, an exhibition of photographs from the personal collections of WWII veterans.

The mission of the Institute on World War II is to collect ­­papers, photographs and other memorabilia relating to the everyday experiences of the participants in World War II. There, these materials are archived and preserved for posterity so that scholars and students can access them for research. The Institute also reaches out to the general public by facilitating lectures, exhibitions, and private visits in order to promote an understanding of the individual’s role in the war.

We encourage anyone with questions about donating similar personal World War II photographs or other material to contact the Institute directly.

Anne Marsh, Administrative Support Assistant
(850) 644-9545
Institute on WWII and the Human Experience Florida State University
401 Bellamy Bldg.Tallahassee, FL 32306-2200
US Army Air Force, 8th Air Force, 486th Bombardment Group Photographs, c. 1944-45, Gelatin silver print, Promised gift of Warren J. and Margot Coville,  SN11332.536