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Provenance in the World War II Era, 1933 - 1945
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PREP Featured in The Iris

April 2018

The German/American Provenance Research Exchange Program (PREP) for Museum Professionals is highlighted in two recent blog posts in the Getty's The Iris. The first, "The New Face of Provenance Research" describes PREP's role in the future of WWII-era provenance research. In the second, "The German/American Provenance Research Exchange Program: An International Autobahn for Provenance Research," 2018 PREP participant Jennifer McComas reports on her experience as part of the weeklong PREP Exchange at the Getty Research Institute.

Provenance-Focused Material Culture Forum at the Smithsonian

April 2018

SPRI and Smithsonian Libraries are co-organizing a provenance-focused Material Culture Forum, moderated by Richard Kurin, on May 31. Additional details to be announced.

SPRI Participates in AIA/AAMD/NGS Antiquities Workshop

April 2018

Johanna Best, ACLS/Mellon Public Fellow and SPRI's Program Manager for Scholarly and Public Engagement, will participate in the Archaeological Institute of America/Association of Art Museum Directors/National Geographic Society Antiquities Workshop in April 2018.

SPRI Participates in AAMC Provenance Webinar Series: Advances in World War II-era Provenance Research

April 2018

On June 12, 2018 at 12:00-1:15 pm ET, SPRI Director Jane Milosch will moderate a webinar, Advances in WWII-era Provenance Research, hosted by the Association of Art Museum Curators. Speakers, including Karen Daly (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond), Christel Force (The Metropolitan Museum of Art), Victoria Reed (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), and Laurie Stein (President, L. Stein Art Research LLC, Chicago / Senior Advisor, SPRI) will discuss the development of the field of provenance research in museum collections, particularly the study of artworks that may have been looted between 1930-1945, as well as new resources, methodologies, and research projects.

Advances in WWII-era Provenance Research is the first in a series of three webinars dedicated to research, advances, and issues surrounding the topic of provenance. The series is hosted by AAMC and was co-created and co-organized by David Saunders, Associate Curator, Department of Antiquities, J. Paul Getty Museum and Judith Pineiro, Executive Director, AAMC & AAMC Foundation.

Event registration and additional information are available here.

3rd PREP Exchange Public Program at The Getty

March 2018

The public program of the 3rd PREP Exchange entitled "Provenance Research—A Personal Concern," took place on Thursday, March 1 at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. Speakers included the Getty Research Institute's Thomas W. Gaehtgens joined by Stephanie Barron (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), Simon Goodman (author of The Orpheus Clock), and James Welu (Director Emeritus of the Worcester Art Museum).

Additional information can be found in the Getty Research Institute's press release here.

2nd PREP Exchange Public Program in Berlin

September 2017

The Public Program of the 2nd PREP Exchange took place on September 27, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The Public Program featured presentations about collaborative WWII-era provenance projects by pairs of 2017 PREP participants. An audio recording of the Program, entitled "Warum dauert das so lange? Einblicke in die Praxis der Provenienzforschung zur NS-Raubkunst," is available on Voice Republic.

Four Questions for SPRI Director Jane Milosch

September 2017

SPRI Director Jane Milosch is featured in the first video of an interview series about PREP on the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz's website.

PREP Interview Series Goes Live!

August 2017

Check out a series of interviews with some PREP Steering Committee members and 2017 participants, hosted on the Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin's blog, "Museum and the City."

• Interview with PREP Steering Committee member and SPRI Director, Jane Milosch (English, German)
• Interview with two 2017 PREP participants, Hanna Strzoda and Anna Pfäfflin (English, German)
• Interview with 2017 PREP participant, Nancy Karrels (English, German)
• Interview with 2017 PREP participant, MacKenzie Mallon (English)

CAA 2018 Call for Papers: Provenance Research as a Method of Connoisseurship?

July 2017

This session will explore the intersections between provenance research and connoisseurship with regard to the early modern period. In order to go beyond today's dominant understanding of provenance research as a practice exclusively related to Nazi-looted art and questions of restitutions, the panel will deliberately focus on topics from the late fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. By setting this alternative chronological limit, we will delve into the historical role of provenance research, its tools and significations, and its relation to connoisseurship and collecting practices. What influence did the biography of an artwork exert on the opinion of some of the greatest connoisseurs of the past? How did the documented (or suspected) provenance of a work of art impact its attribution and authentication process? Which strategies were employed in the mentioning of provenance information in sale catalogues or, sometimes, directly on the artworks themselves? Did the development of art historical knowledge change the practice of provenance research over time? And finally, how can we call attention to these questions in contemporary museum practice and reassess provenance research as a tool of connoisseurship? In addition to addressing the history as well as the strategies of provenance research, this session will be an opportunity to question its relationship to other domains as well as to bring it closer to core problems of art history and museology. We invite contributions that introduce new historical and methodological approaches. Proposals which go beyond the case study are especially encouraged.

For submission guidelines:
Paper proposals are due August 14. Please email your proposal to the chairs.

Christian Huemer (Getty Research Institute,
Valérie Kobi (Universität Bielefeld,
Valentina Locatelli (Kunstmuseum Bern,

2018 Call for Applications: German/American Provenance Research Exchange Program (PREP) for Museum Professionals

June 2017

The Smithsonian Institution and the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz announce the second year of exchanges under the German/American Provenance Research Exchange Program (PREP) for Museum Professionals, 2017-2019. PREP welcomes applications from museum professionals who specialize in World War II-era provenance research in Germany and the U.S.

The Getty Research Institute will host the 3rd Exchange in Los Angeles, February 26-March 2, 2018. The Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte will host the 4th Exchange in Munich, October 8-12, 2018.

For more information about PREP, please visit
The application for the 2018 program will be open until September 15, 2017.

Public Program: "A Question of Provenance: Holocaust-era Art, Research, and Restitution"

May 2017

On Wednesday, May 10, 2017, SPRI and Smithsonian Associates organized a public program, "A Question of Provenance: Holocaust-era Art, Research, and Restitution," in cooperation with the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Washington, DC.
Panelists included: Jane Milosch, SPRI; Meike Hoffmann, Degenerate Art Research Center, Free University of Berlin; Sophie Lillie, independent scholar and specialist in pre-war private collecting and patronage in Vienna; Shlomit Steinberg, Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Yehudit Shendar, Yad Vashem (The World Holocaust Remembrance Center), Jerusalem; and Andrea Baresel-Brand, German Center for Lost Art.
Please click here to read an article about the May 10 public program by Smithsonian Magazine.

Generous support for the May 10 program came from Suzanne and Norman Cohn, with additional support from Jane and Arthur Mason.

On May 11, SPRI and the German Embassy in Washington sponsored a provenance research roundtable and lunch. The event featured the panelists from the May 10 public program and approximately 25 representatives from museums, archives, auction houses, and embassies. The group discussed WWII-era provenance projects in the United States, Germany, and Israel.

Provenance Research Exchange Program (PREP) for Museum Professionals, 1st Exchange Public Program and Livestream

February 2017

On Friday, February 10, 2017, 2-4 pm EST, The Metropolitan Museum of Art will be hosting the "German/American Exchange on Nazi-Era Provenance Research: A Discussion with Museum Leaders," a public program associated with the German/American Provenance Research Exchange Program (PREP) for Museum Professionals. The livestream of the event can be found at

The speakers include: Thomas Campbell, Director and CEO, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Lynn Nicholas, Independent scholar and author; Sharon Cott, Senior Vice President, Secretary, and General Counsel, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Hermann Parzinger, President, Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Berlin, and Co-Chair PREP, 2017-19; Thomas W. Gaehtgens, Director, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles; and Richard Kurin, Acting Provost/Under Secretary for Museums and Research, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, and Co-Chair PREP, 2017-19.

Provenance Research Exchange Program (PREP) for Museum Professionals, 2017-2019

October 2016

"The Smithsonian and the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation), two of the world's largest museum, education and research complexes, have established a new research exchange program. The German/American Provenance Research Exchange Program for Museum Professionals (PREP) will, for the first time, bring together museum professionals from both sides of the Atlantic who specialize in World War II-era provenance research for a three-year, systematic exchange (2017-2019)." To learn more, please see the Smithsonian Newsdesk press release or visit the PREP webpage.

Smithsonian Institution and the University of Glasgow sign an MOU

April 2016

The Smithsonian Institution and the University of Glasgow signed a Memorandum of Understanding on April 8, 2016, to expand their 20-year relationship. One of the MoU's first results is a partnership between the Smithsonian Provenance Research Initiative and the University's College of Art to launch the first graduate and post-graduate program on provenance research, "Collecting and Provenance in an International Context." For more information, please click here.

Publication: Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals, a focus issue on "Provenance Research in American Institutions"

AltaMira Press
June 2014

Bringing together the expertise of independent scholars and professionals who are affiliated with American institutions, this issue aims to foster dialogue among museums, archives, and research centers and to broaden the accessibility of information. The collection of articles opens with a Foreword by Megan M. Fontanella and an introduction by Lynn H. Nicholas. A closer look at resources and initiatives is offered in the following articles: "Provenance: Not the Problem (The Solution): Smithsonian Provenance Research Initiative" by Jane C. Milosch; "Princes, Dukes, and Counts: Pedigrees and Problems in the Kress Collection" by Nancy H. Yeide; "The 'German Sales 1930-1945' Database Project" by Christian Huemer; and Laurie A. Stein's "'Everyone Brings a Piece to the Puzzle': Conversations with Elaine Rosenberg and Reflections on Provenance Research among The Paul Rosenberg Archives." Case studies include: "Navigating the Gray Area: Pechstein's Girl Combing Her Hair, the Littman Collection, and the Limits of Evidence" by Catherine Herbert; "Researching the Wertheim Collection at the Harvard Art Museums" by Elizabeth M. Rudy; "One Painting Concealed Behind Another: Picasso's La Douleur (1903) and Guitar, Gas-Jet, and Bottle (1913)" by Christel Hollevoet-Force; "The Eugene Garbaty Collection of European Art" by Victoria Reed; and Dorota Chudzicka's "'In Love at First Sight Completely, Hopelessly, and Forever with Chinese Art': The Eugene and Agnes Meyer Collection of Chinese Art at the Freer Gallery of Art." Perspectives on legal claims include Gary Vikan's "Provenance Research and Unprovenanced Cultural Property" and Stephen W. Clark's "Nazi-Era Claims and Art Museums: The American Perspective".

Order a copy  >

A Guide to Provenance Research at the Archives of American Art

The Archives of American Art features an extensive and mutli-dimensional collection, including nearly 200 gallery archives, providing some of the most fruitful resources for documenting the history of European art collecting and for American and international provenance studies. With the support of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Archives of American Art has created detailed Web-searchable online electronic finding aids for eleven archival collections that are central to provenance research for the history of art duirng World War II.

Learn more about the project >

View the guide >

World War II Provenance Research Seminar:
A New Era of Collaboration and Digitized Resources

May 6-7, 2011
United States National Archives
Washington, DC

This two-day seminar presented new resources and strategies for provenance research, emphasized current international collaborative projects and introduced newly accessible electronic tools.

The seminar was sponsored by the United States National Archives, Association of Art Museum Directors, American Association of Museums, and the Smithsonian Institution, with additional support provided by The Samuel H. Kress Foundation and James P. Hayes.

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