Provenance research

Museum Acquisitions from 1933

Since 2009, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has been involved in the national research project Museum Acquisitions from 1933 of the Netherlands Museums Association (NMV). This project aims to investigate whether acquisitions whose provenances are questionable with respect to the Second World War have ended up in Dutch museum collections from 1933. Do the Dutch museums have works in their collections that changed ownership under suspicious circumstances between 1933 and the end of the Second World War?

Spoliated Objects in Museum Collections

In Germany, Jews - as well as other persecuted groups - were threatened and robbed since as early as 1933. The same happened in Austria from the Anschluss in 1938. Before the German occupation of the Netherlands had even begun, people from these parts of the population in Germany and Austria already lost their properties (including art objects) as a result of the Nazi regime. Via art dealers, auctions or individual citizens, these ‘spoliated objects’ did end up in Dutch museums occasionally. Up until many years after the war, museums at times - unwittingly - acquired objects that had been spoliated, sold under pressure or confiscated.

Investigating Various Periods of Acquisition

The Netherlands Museums Association has asked the museums to investigate whether they possess such objects, by thoroughly researching the provenance histories of the works in their collections. This research must lead to an inventory of objects owned by Dutch museums and having a provenance that indicates (or could indicate) involuntary loss of possession. From 1998 to 2001, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen participated in the first national research project of the Netherlands Museums Association concerning acquisitions from 1940-1948. The current research is focused on the acquisitions from 1933-1940 and 1948-present. It will expectedly be completed by early 2015.

Online Clarity about Provenance

The museum takes a critical stance towards its collection and is therefore pleased to offer online openness about the provenances of its art works. That is why information has been accessible through the museum’s website since 2010. The investigation into the acquisitions from 1940-1948 led to the restitution of several works to rightful heirs. These restitutions include works from Dirck van Delen and Jan Toorop. More information about these cases, and about ongoing restitution requests, can be found on the website. Objects with a suspicious provenance that come forward from the current research into the acquisitions from 1933-1940 and 1948-present are published here as well. When it turns out that art works have been taken illicitly from the property of their owners, the heirs will be traced.

The Koenigs Collection

Particular attention is given to the Koenigs Collection. 176 drawings and some paintings from this famous collection, which the museum has on loan from the State of the Netherlands, are claimed by one of the heirs of collector F.W. Koenigs (1881-1941). In order to inform the audience, the media, and any involved institutions and individuals as completely and verifiably as possible about this case, which has been going on since 1997, all documents about the acquisition of the Koenigs Collection from the museum archive can be consulted here online.

Further Information

If you wish to react or request further information, please contact the board of directors of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen via the Marketing and Communication Department:
telephone: +31 (0)10 - 44.19.561