Looted art 1933-45
A large number of cultural objects and works of art were systematically looted by the Nazis and others during the Second World War and the Holocaust Era from 1933-1945; an activity which is often described as spoliation.
How is the spoliation issue managed nationally?
Factsheet Background information describes the work that has been done by Government, by the sector and by individual institutions to examine the issues around spoliation; ensure museums and other public collections work transparently; and that those trying to trace items lost within the period are given the guidance they need.
What do public collections have to do?
Public collections have a duty to identify objectss within their collections with an uncertain provenance from 1933-1945 and make reports on these objects publicly available. For advice on how the public collection in which you work should research and report on objects with an uncertain history in this period go to Factsheet Provenance research. Forty five museums and galleries in the UK have already reported on their provenance research. If you are one of these and wish to update an existing report, go direct to the Museum Spoliation Reports.
Where can I get further advice on this issue?
Information on lost and looted material in this period can be found from a variety of sources (see Factsheet Databases of stolen art and Sources of advice on looted art 1933-45) and from many of the major UK auction houses.
What should I do if I receive a claim for an object in our collection?
Checklist Researching validity gives steps to take to ensure the claim you have received is from a legitimate source; Factsheet Provenance research will be useful here too. The Provenance research report template will help you set down the information you have gathered into a coherent format.
Once you have completed the research you will wish to create a new record, or update an existing record, in your museum's spoliation report. Once all parties concerned with the claim have done their own research you may wish to bring the matter before the Spoliation Advisory Panel (see Factsheet Background information).
How do I keep people informed?
It is important that all parties involved are kept fully informed at every stage. Checklist Successful media relations will guide you through ways of making information public; while Template Press release template provides a format for a press release. Keeping your institution's spoliation report up-to-date is essential in this process.