January 26, 2011
Swiss report: Museums should investigate Nazi-era art
A Swiss government report has concluded that the country’s museums should more intensively investigate whether they hold artwork looted during the Nazi era.
The report, published this week by the Federal Culture Office, summarizes the results of a survey of 551 Swiss museums on the state of their provenance research, according to the Claims Conference, the main Jewish organization on restitution issues.
The Swiss government commissioned the survey in 2008, in advance of the of the 2009 Holocaust Era Assets Conference in Prague. The outcome of the conference is also summarized in the newly released report.
The report of the survey’s results found that information and awareness of the issue of Nazi-looted art should be improved in public and private museums; that museums need to intensify provenance research; and that access to the results of provenance research should be simplified.
Of the 416 museums that responded to the survey, 25 stated that works in the possession of their institutions may be affected by the issue of Nazi-looted art, while 43 reported that they had undertaken provenance research on works owned by their institutions.
Some 108 museums established after 1945 indicated that they have not conducted any provenance research.
At the end of the Prague conference, Switzerland was one of 47 countries that signed the Terezin Declaration, which included a commitment to continue working on this issue
The Nazis looted an estimated 650,000 art and religious items from Jews and other victims, according to the Claims Conference.