Can only museums submit applications?
No. Applications may be submitted by all publicly funded institutions based in Germany that collect, hold or research cultural goods from colonial contexts. These include museums, libraries, universities, and other research institutions. Since January 1, 2021, organizations and institutions based in Germany that are recognized as serving public-benefit purposes under Section 59 in conjunction with Section 52 of the German Fiscal Code have also been allowed to submit applications for provenance research. If your institution is not entitled to apply—perhaps because it is not based in Germany—you can cooperate with an institution that is entitled to do so.
Can individuals or institutions outside Germany, e.g. in the countries of origin, apply?
As a general rule, individuals or institutions based outside Germany may not apply. However, they may develop a cooperation project with a German partner in which the German partner is responsible for submitting the application and managing the funds. In order to facilitate the joint development of an application, the application may also be submitted in English (see below). The project should focus on collections held in German institutions, even if the research initiative comes from abroad.
What sort of cooperative partnership with experts, interest groups and institutions in/from the countries and communities of origin is desirable? How do I initiate such a cooperative partnership?
Where possible, cooperation partners from the countries and communities of origin of the collections should be involved on equal terms from as early on as the application stage and the research concept should be developed jointly. In particular, potential claimants or possible descendants should be included, where appropriate. If this is not possible, you should at least identify and contact potential cooperation partners prior to submitting the application. Should this also not be possible for you, please give reasons for this in the application, and explain how you plan to initiate and conduct a cooperative partnership within the project. Possible initial points of contact may be embassies, national museums, and thematically related museums in the countries concerned.
Can I submit an application jointly with other institutions? Will joint projects also be funded?
Yes, that is possible and even encouraged. You are advised to involve the German Lost Art Foundation in the project conception at an early stage.
Do I have to be an owner of a collection myself in order to research it?
As a rule that is the case, but you may, for instance, investigate a museum’s collection as a member of a university, e.g. as part of a project on basic and context research, with the consent of the collection's owner. For the application, it is then necessary to provide an informal and non-binding declaration of intent on cooperation from the owner or person with the authority to possess the objects to be investigated.
For establishing and organizing collaborations between universities and museums/collections, we recommend using our checklist (PDF, 529 KB)as a guide.
When is a short-term application useful?
As a rule, these projects are for individual objects or a small number of objects. With regard to the funding of short-term projects, Section VI (3) of the Foundation’s funding guideline which came into force on January 1, 2019, makes explicit reference to particular urgency and individual case studies. Particular urgency is deemed to exist if, for example, a request for information or a restitution has been made by a third party. Since January 1, 2021, it has also been possible to submit an application for an Initial Check. (See “What is an Initial Check?”)
Can an institution submit a further application if it has already received funding for a project? Does the project that has already been approved need to be completed beforehand?
According to the funding guideline (PDF, 497 KB), funding from the Foundation is awarded solely for “individual projects”; conversely, “institutional or permanent funding” cannot be granted. In principle, it is possible for an institution to submit several applications and have them all approved, but these should differ significantly in terms of their content and objectives. However, one institution may not submit two applications within one funding round and funding line. The preceding project should also be completed before a new application is submitted. Alternatively, an intermediate report has to be present that was positively reviewed by the department.
What exactly does the term “colonial contexts” mean? The German colonial era?
Essentially, the term “colonial contexts” describes much more than just the formal colonial rule, such as German, French, British, Dutch or Belgian colonial rule. It also includes the circumstances, structures and processes that accompanied European colonial expansion overall, i.e. those that preceded formal colonization or can be considered the consequence of it. Therefore, colonial contexts did not come into existence when German colonies were established in 1884, but, instead, developed steadily from the 15th century onwards—around the time the Spanish started to colonize the Americas. In particular, these contexts are characterized by structures with great imbalances of political power, which gave rise to collection and procurement practices that would not be legally or ethically justifiable today. Equally, colonial contexts did not inevitably end in 1918/19 when the German Empire lost its colonies, nor did they end in the 1950s and 1960s when many African countries gained their independence. Colonial contexts thus existed and exist in different regions and countries at different times. The “Guidelines for German Museums. Care of Collections from Colonial Contexts” (2019) published by the German Museums Association describes and explains these different dimensions of the term “colonial contexts” and suggests useful priorities for work and research in this area.
What kind of research does the Foundation fund?
The Foundation deploys its funding to support the implementation of the “Framework Principles for dealing with collections from colonial contexts” published by representatives of the German government, the Cultural Affairs Ministers of the Länder, and the municipal umbrella organizations (PDF, 511 KB). It is intended to help identify the origin of objects and human remains (and, where possible, their former owners or their identity), and determine the precise acquisition circumstances, so that these can be reliably and knowledgeably assessed. In particular, the aim is to clarify whether collections were appropriated by force and/or without the consent of the owner(s) or persons with the authority to possess the objects. Research projects focusing on the subsequent reception or further use of the objects in museums and scientific institutions are not funded within this framework. We also refer potential applicants to other funding organizations for projects that address the reappraisal of colonial structures and processes without reference to the origin of the formation of museum and university collections.
What is basic and context research?
Similar to the interpretation explained above, basic and context research also relates to the collection and acquisition circumstances of cultural goods and collections. It concerns issues that are of fundamental importance for provenance research into colonial contexts, beyond individual objects and object groups. These include, for example, the reconstruction and analysis of networks, structures, processes, and events that were significant for the appropriation of objects and their transfer to German collections (e.g. “research expeditions”). Consider whether, in fact, this overarching meaning applies to your project. This is the case if, for example, your research findings are relevant for a large group of institutions that hold collections, for provenance researchers, and/or for interest groups from the countries of origin.
Does the foundation fund the digitization of collections?
In principle, no digitization or inventory of objects and collections can be funded. If it is a matter of indexing or analysing documents and archival records, funding is possible in justified individual cases. More detailed explanations can be found in the section on research funding for projects on colonial contexts on this website (Prepare Application - Alternative C). In any case, please contact the department already before developing your project proposal to clarify whether your project can fit our funding.
Should projects deal only with ethnographic objects or can other object categories be the subject of an application? Does the Foundation have specific priorities?
In principle, all objects from colonial contexts can be the subject of an application, i.e. besides ethnographic objects also archeological, geological or scientific objects.
Where prioritization is necessary in the context of extensive collections, assistance may be provided by the funding guideline itself (Section IV (2) “Object of Funding”), the recommendations from the “Care of Collections from Colonial Contexts” guideline published by the German Museums Association (2019), and the “Framework Principles for dealing with collections from colonial contexts” published by representatives of the German government, the Cultural Affairs Ministers of the Länder, and the municipal umbrella organizations (2019).
Can a museum investigate the provenance of its entire holdings?
As a rule, this is not possible. A systematic overall review of holdings can only be funded for small establishments with a limited number of objects. Please seek advice on this from the department.
Is there a minimum or maximum number of objects/human remains that should be dealt with in an application?
No, there are no particular specifications here. However, please try to make a realistic assessment of what can be dealt with in the time period you have proposed. The focus is on the quality of the research project, not the number of objects dealt with.
Is a consultation mandatory prior to the submission of an application?
A consultation is mandatory as stipulated in the funding guideline (Section V (5)). A consultation on form and content is also recommended so that we can ensure your application fully complies with the specifications in the funding guideline in terms of scope and objectives.
Can an application be rejected for formal reasons?
Errors of form may lead to disqualification of the application. Please read the Department’s comments and recommendations and use them as an aid. They will allow your application to be accepted for assessment, but this does not mean that it will be successful.
What preliminary work should an applicant have already done? How specific does the project planning have to be?
What should the duration of my project be?
For long-term projects, an application can be submitted for a period of up to 24 months with the option to extend the project. The total duration should not exceed 36 months. In exceptional cases, a project duration of up to 60 months is possible. However, it may also make sense to propose a project with a shorter term initially (e.g. 12 months) and then submit an extension request for a longer duration later on. This could be the case, for example, if you are planning to do basic preliminary work first as part of the project, such as determining the regional origin of objects, and then establish the relevant international cooperative partnerships in a second stage.
What is the applicant’s own financial contribution? How big does it need to be?
Grants such as those awarded by the German Lost Art Foundation are intended as partial financing, i.e. the grant recipient is also required to make their own financial contribution. Under German funding legislation, the applicant’s own contribution is all the cash resources that the applicant brings to the project. The following are examples of items that can be included as the applicant’s own resources: staff costs, workplace costs, office materials, travel costs, restoration support for provenance research, procurement of equipment/items required for the project (subject to depreciation), exhibition costs, and publication costs. Proof is required of the resources spent; the grant recipient must provide evidence of all this expenditure when the use of funds is checked.
If you have any further questions on this subject, please contact the Department directly for individually tailored advice.
Are there any requirements for the payment of foreign cooperation partners?
For information on payment amounts, we recommend referring to the “Aufenthaltskosten für Deutsche im Ausland” (Living expenses for Germans abroad, German only) which is regularly published and updated by the DAAD. Staff costs are normally paid in the form of fees. To simplify the procedure, we advise you to include the travel costs incurred for project partners in the fee and estimate a total amount. Please remember to take any sales tax into account in your calculations.
Who decides whether to approve my application?
The Funding Committee checks all long-term funding applications that are received and then makes a funding recommendation, i.e. a recommendation for the approval (with or without conditions) or the rejection of the application. The Executive Board makes the final, legally binding decision. For short-term applications, only the Executive Board is involved in the decision.
What happens to the results of my research project? Are they also made available in the German Lost Art Foundation’s Proveana research database?
Yes. Upon completion of the project, you are contractually obliged to submit a detailed research report to us. The Foundation will incorporate the results contained therein into the research database; the full report will also be accessible via Proveana. It is usually necessary to blank out some parts of the text for ethical or legal reasons.
What is an Initial Check?
An Initial Check is intended to enable institutions that collect or hold cultural goods to carry out an initial, basic examination of their collection if they do not have the necessary staff capacity to do so themselves. At least some evidence to indicate a link to colonial contexts should exist, however, it is not necessary to know any concrete or detailed information. An Initial Check can be proposed for all types of objects. One possible result of an Initial Check is the identification of objects or groups of objects that require more extensive provenance research. Upon completion of the project, a short-term or long-term research application can be submitted after consultation with the department.
Who can apply for an Initial Check?
The Initial Check is primarily intended for collections that are not in a position to carry out such a basic examination of their holdings due to their staff resources. It thus refers to smaller institutions in particular. Evaluation criteria are the staffing or financial resources, the (un)availability of specialist expertise, and the size of the collection itself. It is possible for several small institutions to form a consortium. In specific individual cases, abandoned collections or those outside the subject area represented by the museum can undergo an Initial Check in larger institutions. In such cases, it is necessary to contact the department for individually tailored advice.
In what language can applications be submitted?
Applications must generally be submitted in German. However, it is possible to submit an application in English with the agreement of the Department if this facilitates the involvement of institutions, communities, and experts from the countries and communities of origin. The short description and the financing plan must be submitted in German, even where the application is in English. In the event that the project is funded, the other parts of the application must also be provided in German. Translation costs can be specified and applied for in the financing plan.