Mis­si­on Statement

Mis­si­on Statement

The Arbeits­kreis Pro­ve­ni­enz­for­schung e.V. con­nects rese­ar­chers and experts inter­na­tio­nal­ly working in public and pri­va­te insti­tu­ti­ons, art dea­lers, in aca­de­mia or on a free­lan­ce basis in order to rese­arch the pro­ven­an­ce of cul­tu­ral assets. The rese­arch focus lies in par­ti­cu­lar on objects con­fis­ca­ted due to Nazi per­se­cu­ti­on, objects sei­zed wit­hin the Soviet occup­a­ti­on zone or the GDR, as well as objects collec­ted wit­hin a colo­ni­al con­text. During the annu­al gene­ral mee­ting and a sym­po­si­um with invi­ted guests held in Ber­lin bet­ween 12 and 14 Novem­ber 2018, 177 of the 275 mem­bers of the Arbeits­kreis Pro­ve­ni­enz­for­schung e.V. from Aus­tria, Ger­ma­ny, Gre­at Bri­tain, the Nether­lands, Switz­er­land, and the United Sta­tes met to dis­cuss the basic princi­ples and pro­gress made wit­hin the field in addi­ti­on to chal­len­ges and desi­res for the future.

Twen­ty years after the decla­ra­ti­on of the Washing­ton Princi­ples on Nazi-Con­fis­ca­ted Art (1998), pro­ven­an­ce rese­arch is an inte­gral part of muse­um work but also the workings of libra­ries, archi­ves, and the art mar­ket. In addi­ti­on to the iden­ti­fi­ca­ti­on of so-cal­led unlaw­ful­ly appro­pria­ted goods, this rese­arch also fur­thers know­ledge about the histo­ry of collec­tions and insti­tu­ti­ons, to under­stand the pro­ces­ses of authen­ti­ca­ti­on, (value) attri­bu­ti­on, mani­fes­ta­ti­on, or appro­pria­ti­on of what is defi­ned as cul­tu­ral pro­per­ty today. Moreo­ver, pro­ven­an­ce rese­arch has long been part of aca­de­mic and non-aca­de­mic rese­arch and inst­ruc­tion. The huma­nities also draw on insights pro­vi­ded by pro­ven­an­ce rese­arch in their stu­dies on the Holo­caust. Simi­lar­ly, stu­dies in art histo­ry and art socio­lo­gy often use pro­ven­an­ce rese­arch to inves­ti­ga­te aspects of trans­lo­ca­ti­on and the for­ma­ti­on of taste.

Against this back­drop, the Arbeits­kreis Pro­ve­ni­enz­for­schung e.V. is com­mit­ted to impro­ving the working con­di­ti­ons at public and pri­va­te insti­tu­ti­ons which enga­ge rese­ar­chers pre­do­mi­nant­ly on short-term con­tracts as part of third-par­ty fun­ded pro­jects, ther­eby jeo­par­di­zing the sus­taina­bi­li­ty of the pro­ject and the long-term docu­men­ta­ti­on of rese­arch results. In addi­ti­on, the working group appeals to the federal government, the government of the federal sta­tes as well as local aut­ho­ri­ties to ampli­fy their efforts to pro­mo­te rese­arch infra­st­ruc­tures, inclu­ding digi­tal ones.

Goal-ori­en­ted pro­ven­an­ce rese­arch can only be car­ri­ed out with ade­qua­te­ly orga­ni­zed source docu­men­ta­ti­on and the iden­ti­fi­ca­ti­on of addi­tio­nal archi­val hol­dings. At the same time, new­ly gene­ra­ted know­ledge stem­ming from recent inter­di­sci­pli­na­ry pro­jects needs to be recor­ded and shared in a trans­pa­rent fashion.

The princi­pal aim here is to con­cen­tra­te? core com­pe­ten­ci­es as well as exper­ti­se. For this rea­son, the Arbeits­kreis Pro­ve­ni­enz­for­schung e.V. in the future will beco­me incre­a­singly invol­ved in terms of ques­ti­ons of pro­ject con­tent and in working groups which will, for examp­le, exami­ne metho­do­lo­gi­cal approa­ches, digi­tal pro­ven­an­ce rese­arch, or the iden­ti­fi­ca­ti­on of extra­or­di­na­ry source mate­ri­als. For the long term, rese­ar­chers will only be able to meet the extre­me­ly diver­se deman­ds pla­ced on their work wit­hin the frame­work of deci­ded­ly impro­ved working con­di­ti­ons and structures.

Board of the Arbeits­kreis Pro­ve­ni­enz­for­schung e.V.