The exhibition Loot – 10 stories (Roofkunst – 10 verhalen) shares the struggle museums have with stolen art. Where did the looted objects come from? Why were they stolen? With a VR headset on, you suddenly find yourself in a secret art storage. In a tunnel, a kilometer underground, you’re all of a sudden eye-to-eye with a stolen Rembrandt. How did it end up there?
Looted art refers to art or objects that somehow unlawfully ended up in museums. Objects that were stolen in colonial times or during wars, confiscated or forcibly sold, exchanged or ceded.
Much of this art ended up in museums in the nineteenth, early twentieth century, when museums emerged in Europe. For these museums, tracing the original owners is complicated. There are no receipts with the objects. Some objects were looted centuries ago. It often takes a lot of research to trace the provenance of an object. Sometimes it never succeeds.
The exhibition tells the story of the following 10 looted objects:
- Anet-commode (French, 18th century, Stadtmuseum Berlin);
- Balinese dagger (Indonesian, ca. 1800-1850, Ethnologisches Museum Berlin);
- Benin Bronzes (German plaster casts and replicas, 20th century, Gipsformerei Berlin);
- Jewish silver (Stadtmuseum Berlin);
- Cannon of Kandy (digital 3D model of the Sri Lankan cannon by Kel O’Neill and Eline Jongsma)
- Paulus Potter’s Cows Reflected in the Water (1648, Mauritshuis)
- Jan Mijtens’s
- Horse Head from the Quadriga of the Brandenburger Tor ( , Stadtmuseum Berlin)
- Staff featuring a female figure (Surinamese, ca. 1900,
The exhibition is organized in cooperation with the Humboldt Forum in Berlin where it will be on show in 2024.