Herkomstonderzoek naar museale collecties in verband met roof, confiscatie of gedwongen verkoop in de periode 1933-1945

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About the investigation

On this website the Museums Association presents the conclusions of the four-year investigation Museum Acquisitions from 1933 onwards into the provenance of works of art in Dutch museums.

During the Second World War the Nazis looted art, much of which was the property of Jewish owners, on a large scale. Thousands of paintings and objets d’art were sold under duress and for unreasonably low prices. Works of art with such a dubious background sometimes found their way into museum collections. This motivated Dutch museums to launch the project Museum Acquisitions 1940-1948 in 1998. Its aim was to investigate the acquisitions made during and right after the war.

Attention to this subject did not lose momentum in the years that followed. The insight gained along the way made it clear that works of art stolen or sold under duress between 1940 and 1945 were not the only ones to land in Dutch museums. Jews were already being persecuted and oppressed in Germany from 1933, and in Austria from 1938. After many peregrinations, the property stolen from them in the 1930s could also have found its way into Dutch museums long after the war. The realisation that this situation warranted further investigation led to the launching of the project Museum Acquisitions from 1933 onwards made possible by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

Between 2009 and 2013 more than 160 museums throughout the Netherlands scoured their collections for works acquired in the periods 1933-1940 and after 1948 that might have been wrenched from the hands of their rightful owners through confiscation or forced sale. Various parties were closely involved in this undertaking: the Museums Association coordinated and facilitated the investigation: the Committee Museum Acquisitions from 1933 onwards bore responsibility for the investigation with regard to content and the museums themselves carried out the actual research.

The English version of this website will be launched in 2014. In addition to the results of the museums’ investigations, all of the available information about works with a (possibly) problematic provenance can be found here. In the meantime, the original owners of various works have been identified. In the case of other works suspected of having been looted, information crucial for establishing with certainty whether, and if so,  from whom the work of art was stolen, is lacking. We hope to unearth additional information with the help of visitors of this website.