Jewish Museum of Westphalia publishes brochure on provenance research project
The Jüdisches Museum Westfalen (Jewish Museum of Westphalia) has published a brochure on its provenance research project, which has been funded by the German Lost Art Foundation since May 2020 and is now complete. 60 pages in length, the brochure presents the results of one and a half years of scholarly work.
As is shown based on a number of examples, research into Judaica and everyday objects faces particular challenges. Ritual objects dating back to the 19th and early 20th centuries, candlesticks, besamim boxes and also medallions were mass-produced items. If they are not made of precious metal, they have no hallmark or manufacturer’s marking, and often they bear no inscription. Even in the case of objects which do bear an inscription but are of uncertain origin, it is difficult to identify the owner.
Nevertheless, it was possible to identify the former owners of some books based on inscriptions, notes, bookplates and stamps. In addition to restitutions to the Jewish communities in Frankfurt am Main and Munich, it was possible for one book to be restored to its rightful owners in the UK. The recipient is the granddaughter of the former owner. The day before her departure by Kindertransport in July 1939, she took leave of her grandfather for the last time. Her grandfather was later deported and murdered. So her joy was all the greater when, as a 90-year-old in October 2020, she was able to hold the prayer book in her hands once again.
It was possible to trace certain details, and new insight was gained into some of the exhibits. “If there was one thing we sadly had to bid farewell to in this project, however, it was the idea that all cases would be solved,” said museum director Dr. Kathrin Pieren. “Even after completion, many questions remain unanswered. But given our comprehensive documentation of the research in the collection database and the transparent handling of open questions as well as ongoing maintenance of the networks established, we hope to be able to solve further cases in the future and continue to return objects to their rightful owners – we owe it to them.”
The brochure can be ordered from the Jüdisches Museum Westfalen at a price of 6 euros plus postage. For further details, see: https://www.jmw-dorsten.de/