Since August 2016, the Museum Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt am Main has been systematically searching its arts and crafts holdings for objects unlawfully appropriated from their Jewish owners during the Nazi period.
By examining its holdings of the years from 1933 to the post-war era, the Museum Angewandte Kunst is living up to its historical responsibilities and fulfilling its obligations as specified by the Washington Principles (1998).
In the inventory lists of the Museum Angewandte Kunst dating from 1933 to 1945 and the post-war years, more than two thousand objects of unexplained provenance have meanwhile been identified. The focus of the research is on all art objects purchased by the responsible museum personnel from the relevant German, French and Dutch art dealerships or at auction during the period in question. The inventory lists provide evidence of acquisitions from a number of art dealers based in Frankfurt am Main and beyond regional borders. More than fifty objects in the Museum Angewandte Kunst holdings were purchased in Paris during the occupation period (1940–1944).
Artefacts marked as “takeovers” and purchased for the museum by the city of Frankfurt in the period from 1933 to 1945 are especially conspicuous, as are acquisitions listed as “old Frankfurt holdings”, “Frankfurt tax office”, “[payment] transferred by the city”, or “Frankfurt pawn office”. These also include numerous silver objects once belonging to Jews (so-called “Jew silver”) and furnished with so-called “Jew numbers”.
Another objective of the project is to continue the research on the Maximilian von Goldschmidt-Rothschild collection on the basis of the preceding research project (2009) sponsored by the Arbeitsstelle für Provenienzforschung. The identification of works from the Goldschmidt-Roth schild collection and research on their whereabouts are not to result in the closing of files, but serve as an aid in projecting a path of remembrance that extends into the future.
Within the context of the provenance research on the arts and crafts holdings of the Museum Angewandte Kunst, the aim is to clarify for each individual case whether the onetime owner was deprived of the respective object in conjunction with Nazi persecution.
The project title translates as:
Sponsored by the Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste Magdeburg
(project duration: 1 August 2016 to 28 February 2018)
What responsibility do museums have, even today, in relation to art looted by the Nazis? As part of a joint project undertaken by a number of Frankfurt museums, from June 2018 on an exhibition at the Museum Angewandte Kunst will present the story of the Pinkus/Ehrlich Collection as a case study.