N.B. Prolonged from the original closing date of 25 February until 18 March 2007
Hollandsche Schouwburg / Joods Historisch Museum, Amsterdam
Bureau Herkomst Gezocht, The Hague
Information from the organizers
Looted, but from whom? is an exhibition about art objects which were either acquired by forced sale or stolen from their Jewish owners by the Nazis during the Second World War. After the war, as many objects as possible were brought back to the Netherlands with the intention of identifying the owners and returning the property to any rightful claimants. For a great number of objects in this so-called ‘Netherlands Art Property Collection’ (NK Collection – Nederlands Kunstbezit Collectie), this was not achieved at the time. Since Origins Unknown Agency began a renewed search in 1998 for the rightful owners of the remaining objects, some 500 have been returned. However, the original owners of a few hundred pieces in the NK collection have not been found.
The fifty art objects on display in the Looted, but from whom? exhibition were chosen to illustrate the efforts of the Origins Unknown Agency. A good example is the story of a landscape painting which Martin Heidemann, a Polish-Jewish art collector had to surrender to the German Lippmann-Rosenthal (Liro) looting bank in Amsterdam during the Second World War. Heidemann was killed in Bergen-Belsen in 1945. After the war, he could be identified as the owner of this work because his name was listed in the archives. However, the search for his son, who survived the war, hit a snag in Argentina. Where are the heirs?
Many of the agency’s research is similarly open-ended because crucial information about the owners is missing.Once again, the Dutch public is being involved in the attempt to return the remaining art objects in the NK collection, as the final deadline for cultural goods restitution claims is fast approaching. Claims can be submitted until 4 April 2007.
The Looted, but from whom? exhibition was put together by Hollandsche Schouwburg (which is managed by the Jewish Historical Museum) in collaboration with the Origins Unknown Agency. Thanks are also due to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage for their part in making the exhibition possible.