German Museums Under Pressure to Put Collections Online

Posted November 25th, 2013

Art Theft, Collections, Germany, Modernism, Museums

“Under international norms adopted in Washington in 1998, German museums are obligated to go through their collections for works that may have been looted by the Nazis,” writes the Wall Street Journal. “But the museums have balked at going a step further and digitizing their collections to allow independent searches, citing budget restrictions and a lack of staff.

That reluctance has for years been a source of tension within the art world, with critics alleging other motives. “They don’t want to let people see what they have because they know if they put it online they’ll get claims and possibly lose major paintings,” Ronald Lauder, a billionaire art collector and president of the World Jewish Congress, said in an interview.

The Munich discovery has prompted his group as well as the U.S. government and the London-based Commission for Looted Art in Europe to press for change.”

Read on at the WSJ.

- Jpost: “In an interview with German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, Bavarian Justice Minister Winfried Bausback suggested coming to an “amicable settlement” with Cornelius Gurlitt, who has demanded his art back.

“We could, for example, certainly find a solution for some of the pictures by putting the works of art that are clearly of the greatest interest from an art-history perspective into a foundation that could also be made accessible to the public,” Bausback was quoted as saying.”
- AFP: “A granddaughter of German painter Otto Dix, a few of whose works were discovered in the vast trove of Nazi-looted art stashed in a Munich flat, has called Germany’s approach to the Third Reich’s spoils “scandalous,” AFP reports.

“Germany, generally speaking, has never really addressed the issue of works of art seized by the Nazis. It should have done that much earlier, soon after the war,” Nana Dix told AFP in a telephone interview from her Munich home. “A discovery like this has never happened and now that it has, I find it scandalous.”"

Image: “The Son” by Edvard Munch is among the works now shown on the Lost Art website. Photo: Getty