Metropolitan Museum of Art curator killed in train crash

Walter Liedtke, longtime curator @metmuseum in New York, believed killed in Metro North crash

A prominent curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York was among the six fatalities in Tuesday's Metro-North train crash that occurred in upstate New York in the town of Valhalla.

Walter Liedtke served as a curator of the museum's European paintings department and had been with the museum for 35 years. A spokeswoman for the museum confirmed late Wednesday that Liedtke was killed in the train crash.

An official statement from the museum said that "we are deeply saddened by this tragic loss... He will long be remembered for his vast knowledge, wit and a passion for art that inspired all who came in contact with him." 

Earlier on Wednesday, an email purporting to be from museum director Thomas P. Campbell to staff, obtained by the website Artnet, stated that "it is with profound sadness that we communicate the news that one of our finest colleagues, Walter Liedtke, Curator in European Paintings, was involved in the Metro North train crash that occurred yesterday evening."

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A press release from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Wednesday stated that those killed were five passengers aboard the Metro-North train and the driver of a vehicle that had stopped at a railroad crossing. The train is believed to have crashed into the vehicle at the crossing.

A report in the Westchester and Rockland counties newspaper the Journal News states that Liedtke was one of the five train passengers who were killed.

Tuesday's crash is believed to be the worst in Metro-North's history. In addition to the six fatalities, the MTA said that 15 individuals were treated for injuries at local hospitals. Reports say that the accident occurred Tuesday evening during the rush-hour commute and involved an express train on the Harlem Line originating from Grand Central Station in New York.

Liedtke worked on numerous exhibitions during his time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was an expert in Dutch and Flemish paintings and was instrumental in the 2007 exhibition "The Age of Rembrandt," which presented the museum's entire collection of Dutch paintings ranging from approximately 1600 to 1800.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, located on New York's Upper East Side, is the largest art museum in the country and has a curatorial staff in the hundreds.

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT      


5:28 p.m.: Added confirmation and official statement from Metropolitan Museum of Art. 


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