The Central Office for Provenance Research Hesse

The Central Office for Provenance Research Hesse was established in 2015 on the initiative of the Hesse State Government in order to institutionally consolidate already existing measures to search in Hesse for cultural assets expropriated as a result of National Socialist persecution.

Every cultural asset has its own history.

With the support of the Central Office for Provenance Research, the Hesse state museums—the Hesse State Museum Darmstadt (HLMD), the Museumslandschaft Hessen  Kassel (MHK), the Museum Wiesbaden, and the State Palaces and Gardens  of Hesse (SG)—are in a position to fulfil their historic obligation, as laid down in the Washington Principles and the Common Declaration adopted by the German federal and state governments and national associations of local authorities in 1999, to examine their inventories for art confiscated by the National Socialists.

One of the researchers’ core tasks is to identify cultural assets confiscated as a result of National Socialist persecution—especially those originating from Jewish ownership—in the collections of the state museums amalgamated under the mandate of the Historical Heritage Management of the State of Hesse.

In doing so, the provenance of all works acquired after 1933 and created before 1945 is scrutinized, aiming for as complete a clarification of ownership structures as possible.

Since 2015, systematic research into the painting collections of the three Hesse state museums has been proceeding chronologically:

  • At the Hesse State Museum Darmstadt, research has begun on acquisitions made between 1933 and 1945. In the meantime, acquisitions from the post-war period and the 1950s are being processed.
  • At the Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel (MHK), priority is now being given to examining acquisitions from the 1950s.
  • At the Museum Wiesbaden, investigations into paintings acquired by Director Hermann Voss between 1935 and 1945 are being pursued. They are based on the research projects, sponsored from 2009 to 2015, of the former Agency for Provenance Research, now the German Lost Art Foundation.

Maintained by two research associates, the Central Office for Provenance Research Hesse is an institution of the State of Hesse located at the Museum Wiesbaden. Professional and legal supervision is the responsibility of the Hesse Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and the Arts. The duties and organisation of the Central Office for Provenance Research are set down in an organisational directive.

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