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Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen offers online clarity about the provenance of its art works. This deals in particular with art works that were acquired during or around the Second World War and possibly came from private ownership that has previously been unlawfully lost.
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen undertakes intensive research into the way and the circumstances of acquisition of art works in the period from 1933, the year in which the Nazis came to power in Germany. Not only during the Second World War but also leading up to it, many private owners, belonging to persecuted population groups, lost their art works through theft, confiscation, forced sale or under suspicious circumstances. Many of these disappeared unnoticed into the art trade and auctions or have subsequently ended up in museum collections by some other route, where people are not fully aware of the precise background.
In the last fifteen years, various descendants of former owners, who have traced the art works through their own efforts or have been made aware of them, requested their return. In many cases, the art works have been returned after further research has made clear that the loss of ownership at the time was, indeed, unlawful.
The museum participates in the national project ‘Provenance research of museum acquisitions 1933-1940 and 1948-today’, which was started in 2010 on the initiative of the Netherlands Museums Association (NMV). The final report is expected in 2012. The museum previously gave its cooperation to the investigation initiated in 1998-1999 by the NMV into the provenance of art works acquired in the years 1940-1948. That resulted at the time in a number of restitutions to lawful descendants.
A summary of current and closed restitution requests has been placed online. More detailed information is provided on individual cases such as the additional provenance investigation which led to restitution of works by Dirck van Delen and Jan Toorop, which drew a lot of media attention at the time. Extra space is given to the Koenigs Collection (drawings and paintings), which has been claimed from various organisations, including the museum, by one of the grandchildren of a former owner. All the old documents present in the museum dealing with this case are now online and generally accessible. Lists with literature, media reports, web publications, archives and claims have been added, with many practical hyperlinks. The aim is to inform the public, the media, the institutes and persons involved as fully and as verifiably as possible about this lengthy and complicated matter.
Further information can be obtained from: the management of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, via the department Marketing and Communications, +31 (0)10 - 44.19.561 or firstname.lastname@example.org.