Museum Huelsmann in Bielefeld opens special exhibition on provenance research
The Museum Huelsmann in Bielefeld has opened its special exhibition “Vermächtnis sucht Herkunft. Provenienzforschung zur Sammlung Friedrich und Gertrud Huelsmann in Bielefeld” (A bequest in search of its origins. Provenance research on the collection of Friedrich and Gertrud Huelsmann in Bielefeld). The museum is showcasing the findings of a provenance research project funded by the German Lost Art Foundation until the end of 2021.
Friedrich Karl August Huelsmann (1904–1979) and his wife Gertrud Agathe Elisabeth Huelsmann (1894–1983) began running the renowned art and antique dealership F.K.A. Huelsmann in Hamburg in the late 1930s. In the post-war era, the business became a leader in the field of European handcrafts. In their wills, the childless couple bequeathed all of their assets—including an extensive and high-quality handcraft collection—to the city of Bielefeld, Friedrich Huelsmann’s birthplace. With the opening of the Museum Huelsmann, the city put a total of 953 objects and object groups on display to the public.
The aim of the research project was to clarify the largely unknown origin of the objects before they were acquired by the Huelsmanns, so that any unlawfully expropriated works could be returned to the rightful owners or their heirs.
The exhibition route comprises 15 different displays showcasing the history of the objects. It leads visitors through all areas of the permanent collection and highlights the unknown fate of important artworks before they came to Bielefeld at the bequest of the Huelsmanns. The selected examples name the important collectors, explain various forms of acquisition in the art trade and refer to the working methods of provenance researchers.
After the official opening ceremony had to be canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the exhibition finally opened to the public on May 17.
Project description (only German version)
Provenance Research at the Huelsmann (only German version)