The Bavarian State Painting Collections, the Munich-based foundation that oversees the art collections of museums located throughout the titular German state, will publicly disclose the provenances for over 1,000 works acquired during the Nazi era.
The foundation is launching a database that includes details regarding 1,200 paintings that researchers have found were acquired during the National Socialist period or had ownership links to Nazi officials. Works that came into the possession of museums during this period are often subject to legal claims from descendants of persecuted Jewish families.
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Since 1999, a unit dedicated to provenance research at the museum has been reviewing the ownership records of all artworks in the Bavarian State Painting Collections that were created before 1945 and that have been acquired since 1933.
A statement that accompanies each artwork in the database notes that the project is in keeping with the 1998 Washington Principles and the 1999 Joint Declaration of the Federal Government, both of which mounted calls for greater transparency surrounding the provenances of artworks believed to be subject to restitution claims.
Similar moves to this one have been initiated abroad. In August, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law a new requirement for museums to acknowledge artworks that were stolen from Jews by the Nazis. The law extends the definition of this kind of theft to include forced sales of art.