The Bomann Museum in Celle and Its Collections. The Influence of National Socialist Tyranny on Inventoried Acquisitions from 1933 to 1945
- Dr. Jochen Meiners
Telephone: +49 (0) 5141 12 45 01
- Christopher M. Galler
Telephone: +49 (0) 5141 12 45 05
- March 2016 to February 2018
- March 2018 to July 2019
The Bomann Museum was founded in 1892 on the occasion of the city’s 600th anniversary and moved into a building of its own in 1907. With regard to its collection practice, the museum’s first director Wilhelm Bomann focussed on three main areas: Hanoverian military and state history, rural cultural history and the municipal history of Celle. His successor continued to develop the collection according to these preferences despite making adjustments in emphasis.
Until 1938 the museum was maintained by a non-profit association whose membership had exceeded 800 at one point. Association membership began falling, however, at the onset of the economic crisis in 1929. This was one of the reasons for the decision to form a funding organisation for the museum in 1938. As the city of Celle was now providing considerable financial support for the museum, its director Albert Neukirch, instated in 1923, could no longer wield the same administrative power as before. On the other hand, the mayor of Celle Ernst Meyer approved a considerable increase to the museum’s acquisition budget. A significant number of acquisitions secured by Albert Neukirch were used for decorating the Celle Castle situated opposite the museum.
Between 1933 and 1945, some 3,000 new acquisitions were entered in the inventory books. This provenance research project will focus on systematically investigating whether any of these acquisitions had belonged to Jewish citizens from Celle, as the museum association had once counted 16 Jewish members in its number. Researchers will also examine acquisitions from regional and supraregional art dealers. Between 1940 and 1944, the museum repeatedly purchased works from the Hans W. Lange auction house in Berlin and the Dorotheum in Vienna, to which works of suspicious provenance were traced in preparation for this project.
All relevant results will be published on the museum’s website and the online platform of the “Provenance Research Network of Lower Saxony”. The project will also be accompanied by regular press and public relations measures. A publication detailing the findings of the project is planned.