Cornelius Gurlitt’s business documentation now accessible in the Federal Archives
Digitized business documents from the estate of art dealer Cornelius Gurlitt can now be viewed in the reading rooms of the Federal Archive and used for provenance research. Preliminary work for the Gurlitt Provenance Research project forms the basis for research into the art dealer’s business documents. Following the ruling of December 15, 2016, in which Kunstmuseum Bern was confirmed as Gurlitt’s heir, files from the art dealer’s estate can now be inspected in the reading rooms of the Federal Archive in Koblenz, Berlin-Lichterfelde, Freiburg and Bayreuth.
The Gurlitt Provenance Research project and Munich’s Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte in cooperation with the Institut für Zeitgeschichte opened up the extensive estate with the aim of making it available for provenance research. The essential work stages included inspecting, cataloging and sorting the documents according to the archive’s specifications and then analyzing them. Approximately 22,000 documents of a commercial nature and those predominantly relating to business were ultimately selected for digitization. The project also produced an overall inventory in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Archive, as well as an extensive finding aid, comprising over 250 pages, relating to the majority of the correspondence.
The Federal Archive carried out the digitization of the 22,000 selected documents and ensured their prompt provision via file directories on the reading room computers. The digitized photographs from the Gurlitt estate, which have been accessible for research in the Federal Archive since 2016, are thus supplemented by the business correspondence from the estate and are now available in one place for the purpose of research.