Netherlands Museums Association Unveils the Results of the “Looted Art” Investigation

Today the Netherlands Museums Association presents the conclusions of the investigation into the provenance of works of art in Dutch museums, Museum Acquisitions from 1933 Onwards. A total of 139 objects of art have been identified in the 162 participating museums. These objects are either thought or known to have been looted, confiscated or sold under duress in the period between 1933 and 1945 under the Nazi regime. Many of them were the property of Jewish individuals.

The provenance of each object can be found on the website http://www.musealeverwervingen.nl, which will be launched today at 4:00 pm. Even following a thorough investigation, many provenances remain incomplete or inconclusive. The website aims to trace the full provenance of these works with the help of visitors to the site. When possible, the museums make every effort to contact family members or heirs of the original owners.

Investigation results
A total of 162 Dutch museums participated in the investigation. It yielded 139 objects with a (potentially) problematic provenance from 41 different museums. Sixty-one of these objects can be linked to their original owners.

With respect to 78 of the objects it is uncertain to whom they belonged and whether they were indeed looted or relinquished involuntarily. These 139 objects comprise 69 paintings, 24 drawings, 2 sculptures, 31 objects of applied art, and 13 Jewish ceremonial objects. More than 400 museums declined to participate for legitimate reasons, for example because they administer a collection of contemporary art, have a botanical focus, or keep a collection that was assembled prior to 1933.

Thorough investigation
Siebe Weide, director of the Netherlands Museums Association, said: “The Museum Acquisitions from 1933 Onwards investigation touches on the core of what museums do, namely studying their collection and telling its story to the public. This was not an easy undertaking, but the museums never lost sight of the importance of this investigation. The fact that so much time has elapsed since the end of the Second World War should never be a reason for not conducting research on provenance. Accordingly, in the past years Dutch museums have done everything in their power to chart the origins of their collections.”

Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Ms. Bussemaker
We are fortunate to now have a website with all of the available information about works in museums with a potentially problematic provenance. This honours those who were victimized in this respect during the Second World War and is part of the responsibility we assume to chart the provenance of our public art collection with transparency.”

Follow-Up
To make a claim, family members or heirs should first approach the museums in question. Claims are always submitted to the current collection-owner. Subsequently, claims can be made jointly by the current owner, the museum, and family members or heirs to the Restitution Committee for an independent binding recommendation about the future of the object. If the object is State property, family members or heirs of the original owner can submit a written request for restitution to the Minister of Education, Culture and Science.

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