Pilot project on provenance research comes to an end in southern Lower Saxony
The Landschaftsverband Südniedersachsen e. V. regional association today presented the results of the project entitled “Initial check in five town and regional museums – a pilot project on provenance research in southern Lower Saxony”. The project is funded by the German Lost Art Foundation in Magdeburg.
“Suspicious objects were documented in four of the five museums. In the fifth, Clausthal-Zellerfeld, it was possible for the museum to refute the suspicion that a piece of land had been ‘aryanized’,” explained Dr. Christian Riemenschneider in his lecture on the results of his provenance research. He continued: “Most of the suspicious objects were brought to the museum during the Nazi period. In addition, possibly smuggled ethnographica was found in Alfeld and items of church equipment from the GDR were identified in Duderstadt. What is common in all contexts is the predicament in which the donor or the museum may have taken possession of the items. In the Nazi period, this mainly concerns items received from left-wing political or cultural associations, from Jewish families or institutions, the freemasons, Catholic institutions and from other sources classed as ‘enemies of the people or the state’. Objects have also been documented from individual persons in the contexts cited.”
Riemenschneider described his approach as follows: “Suspicious objects and those whose provenance was not clear, especially between 1933 and 1945, but also afterwards, were documented. In the case of positive findings, a follow-on project is planned with the aim of clarifying the suspicious cases, if possible, or enabling appropriate further courses of action (restitution, submitting a report to the Lost Art Database, and so on.) The results will be published,” said the provenance researcher.
“The initial-check model for examining museum collections for suspicious facts has once again proved its worth. It enables even small museums that do not have the staff or financial resources to carry out their own research on their holdings to fulfill their obligations with regard to identifying objects that came into their possession unlawfully after 1933,” commented Dr. Uwe Hartmann, head of the Provenance Research Department at the German Lost Art Foundation.
The participating museums were Alfeld town museum, Duderstadt museum of local history, Einbeck town museum, the civic museum in Hann. Münden and Oberharzer Bergwerkmuseum (Upper Harz Mining Museum) in Clausthal-Zellerfeld.
There are already comparable projects in Brandenburg and, for the first time, in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and in Saxony-Anhalt.