Dutch museum in search of owners of art

The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, a museum of modern and contemporary art, is hosting an extraordinary exhibit of works from its own collection. However, the question is, does the museum really own the works? During the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands (from May 1940), the director of the Stedelijk accepted works of art for safe-keeping from Jewish owners. This exhibit, “The Stedelijk Museum on the Second World War,”

Matisse, "Odalisque," ca. 1920, currently at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

Matisse, “Odalisque,” ca. 1920, currently at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

includes facsimiles of provenance records from that period with the hope that original owners may be identified. This article by Mary M. Lane from the online Wall Street Journal (2/27/15) includes photographs of the bunker in the dunes of Castricum, a Dutch seaside town, where many artworks were stored during WWII.

The normally camouflaged door that accessed the bunker that Stedelijk Museum curator Willem Sandberg commissioned for Holland after he visited Spain in 1938 and saw the cultural destruction evident during the Spanish Civil War. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.

The normally camouflaged door that accessed the bunker that Stedelijk Museum curator Willem Sandberg commissioned for Holland after he visited Spain in 1938 and saw the cultural destruction evident during the Spanish Civil War. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.

This link to the museum’s site has several short videos.

 

 

3 thoughts on “Dutch museum in search of owners of art

  1. morgan stubbs

    I think it’s so amazing that people found these works of art this important. I’m really glad that even through out a time of war people thought to save the art! it’s a HUGE element of people’s culture and its so great that people would go this far and even risk their lives to save it.

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  2. Maggie O'Connor

    I think this is very interesting. There have been several movies about the Nazi art theft. The two most recent are “The Monuments Men” which had American artist go to Germany to find and remove the stolen art. Also there was ” The Women in Gold” both of these relate to this topic. What is sad though about it is that if Hitler deemed it “degenerate” then it was exterminated. I wonder how many other incredible works were destroyed.

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  3. Allison Skowronski

    After reading the article about the Hungarian museum which refused to return works of art following the Holocaust, it is a relief to read about a museum who shares with its patrons that the museum itself is not sure who the showcased artwork. The exhibit which follows Jewish artists, collectors, and dealers who were forced to flee their homeland after Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 sounds fascinating. Many of these pieces could be extremely valuable and it is welcoming to hear that rather than fighting in court over ownership, the museum has acknowledged that the true owners are unknown.

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