Provenance Research

During the Nazi era in Europe (1933-1945), the Nazi regime stole, confiscated, looted, pillaged, and destroyed art objects and other cultural property belonging to private citizens and museums throughout occupied Europe.  Many of these works of art were sold to fund Nazi activities, while others were intended for inclusion in Hitler’s proposed state museums or the private collections of high-ranking Nazi party officials. After the war, thousands of works of art were recovered by the Allies and returned to their rightful owners; however, many others were never found or returned.

With the recognition that such works of art may have made their way into the collections of museums in the United States, the establishment of complete provenance, or ownership history, of a work of art has become an increasing concern. Through the American Association of Museums (AAM) and the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) concerted efforts are being made to fully establish provenance for works of art dated to before 1946, and acquired after 1933, which may have changed hands in Continental Europe during the Nazi era.

The Nazi-Era Provenance Internet Portal (NEPIP) has been established by AAM to facility this research and provide a centralized database of provenance information that is accessible to the general public.  The Lowe Art Museum has identified 157 works of art in the permanent collection with Nazi-era or unknown provenance and this information is available through the NEPIP web site.

Inquiries regarding provenance research should be directed to the Assistant Director.