Investigation into the provenance of museum collections in connection with the theft, confiscation and sale of objects under duress between 1933 and 1945.

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Which museums took part?

Provenance investigated at 163 museums

Museums that participated were those with collections that fell within the parameters of the investigation. In general, museums were eager to take part. All the museums carried out their own provenance investigation. They searched their collection for objects that may have been stolen or sold under duress. The investigation focused especially on paintings, as well as drawings, significant items of furniture and silver items which were objects with uniquely recognisable characteristics.

Around 400 museums reported that their collection did not fall within the parameters of the investigation. Art and objects in small institutions, provincial museums and small local museums often has little to distinguish it: tiles, prints and small utensils for example. Moreover, the provenance of these exhibits is often impossible to trace. Botanical and agrarian collections were not part of the investigation. Modern art museums focused solely on art produced after 1945 had no reason to participate in the investigation. Nevertheless, responses from these organisations have been included on the website.

Overview of all the museums

For an overview of all the responses to the committee’s request, see Museums.