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U.S. museums, working openly to resolve the status of objects in their custody.

 


Frequently Asked Questions

CONTENTS

1. What objects are listed in the Portal?
2. Does the Portal include all such objects in U.S. museums?
3. What information about objects does the Portal provide?
4. Who ensures the accuracy and completeness of this information?
5. Which museums are participating in the Portal?
6. Does the Portal include Judaica?
7. Does the Portal include information about objects in sales galleries, auction houses, or private collections?
8. Can the Portal project help me research the World War II-era history of an object?
9. Does the American Alliance of Museums have an official position on World War II era art claims cases?
10. I am a museum professional; how can I learn more about participating in the Portal?

1. What objects are listed in the Portal?

The Portal contains information only about objects that:

  • were created before 1946 and acquired after 1932,
  • underwent a change of ownership between 1932 and 1946, and
  • were or might reasonably be thought to have been in Continental Europe between those dates.

In the event that a museum is unable to determine whether an object created before 1946 and acquired after 1932 (a) might have been in Continental Europe between 1932 and 1946 and/or (b) underwent a change of ownership during that period, it should still be included.

2. Does the Portal include all such objects in U.S. museums?

Not at first. Due to the wide potential range of qualifying objects and the necessity to begin listing objects as quickly as possible, the Portal will focus first on European paintings, followed by sculpture, drawings, numbered prints, and other uniquely identifiable objects as resources allow. The Portal will not cover objects which are not uniquely identifiable; this includes most furniture, decorative arts, coins, etc.

3. What information about objects does the Portal provide?

The Portal provides the following information for each object listed by a participating museum (* indicates optional information):

  • Artist/Maker Name
  • Nationality of Artist/Maker
  • Place or Culture of Object (if Artist/Maker unknown)
  • Object Title or Name
  • Object Type (painting, drawing, sculpture, etc.)
  • *Description

More complete information about the object can be obtained from the participating museum.

4. Who ensures the accuracy and completeness of this information?

The individual museums participating in the Portal are responsible for all information about objects held in their collections. The Portal is a central finding aid to collections information and is not itself an authoritative database of such information. As such, the Portal can make no warranty regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information provided.

Questions or requests for additional details about an object should be addressed directly to the participating museum.

5. Which museums are participating in the Portal?

Participation by museums is voluntary; however, museums are strongly encouraged to participate under the Recommended Procedures adopted by the museum community through its professional associations. For a current list of participants, see our Participating Museums page.

6. Does the Portal include Judaica?

Initial listings of Judaica may be less complete than those for European paintings. In the interim, the Portal will keep a record of whether participating museums hold Judaica in their collections. To see a list of participating museums with Judaica, visit our Museums with Judaica page.

7. Does the Portal include information about objects in sales galleries, auction houses, or private collections?

No. The Portal includes information only about objects in U.S. museum collections.

8. Can the Portal project help me research the World War II-era history of an object?

Unfortunately, the Portal project does not have the resources to offer individual research services. However, there are other organizations that work with people seeking missing objects to locate lost art.

The Art Loss Register is the largest private database of claims for missing art works. The ALR will take the details of WWII-related claims free of charge, and then will search for the objects as part of their ongoing work. You can find them at http://www.artloss.com.

The Holocaust Claims Processing Office of the New York State Banking Department (HCPO) may also be able to help you in your search. The HCPO is an agency of the New York State Government that helps individuals of all nationalities and backgrounds obtain just resolution for the theft of property in Europe during the WWII era. The HCPO charges no fee to file claims, nor is its service contingent upon a percentage of claimants' restitution awards. You can reach them at http://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumer/holocaust/hcpoindex.htm, phone 212-709-5583.

Finally, there a number of websites in Europe which list missing objects taken from European nations or their citizens from the WWII era, or list found objects for which claimants have not been identified. The Smithsonian manages a list of lost art databases.

9. Does the American Alliance of Museums have an official position on World War II era art claims cases?

The Alliance does not take a position on specific claims or individual claims cases. However, the Alliance has adopted Standards Regarding the Unlawful Appropriation of Objects During the Nazi Era which set out in general terms our standards and expectations for how US Museums should handle questions involving the potential presence of unjustly appropriated Holocaust-Era property in their collections. We also have adopted Recommended Procedures for Providing Information to the Public about Objects Transferred in Europe During the Nazi Era. The Alliance also has a general Code of Ethics for Museums which includes expectations relating to collections stewardship and rightful title.

10. I am a museum professional; how can I learn more about participating in the Portal?

Registering objects with the Portal is free and easy. We encourage all museums with qualifying objects to participate. To learn more, see Who Should Participate?.


  
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