Bought - Exchanged - Stolen? Acquisitions between 
1933 and 1945

Studio Exhibition in the Permanent Collection 
"Renaissance, Baroque, Enlightment"

26 October 2017 - 17 June 2018

Who were the owners of a work before it found its way into a museum’s holdings? And how did it end up there? Provenance research looks for answers to these questions and is an important part of a museum’s work.

Provenance research has seen an upswing, particularly since the search for Nazi-confiscated art in museums was pushed up the agenda as a result of the Washington Conference of 1998. In 2014, the Germanisches Nationalmuseum embarked on a research project, funded by the German Lost Art Foundation, to systematically investigate the paintings, sculptures and craft objects it acquired between 1933 and 1945.

At the conclusion of the project, a studio exhibition is using selected examples of works to examine the relationships between the museum and art dealers or collectors. Nine case examples divulge how objects arrived in the museum, and throw light on the fates of the people who dealt in them, collected or acquired them. It looks at both acquisitions that were undoubtedly legal, and those for which - despite intensive research - gaps in their provenance still exist.

Most of the exhibited objects have been removed from their usual places in the permanent exhibition for the duration of the special exhibition and are displayed in a new context. Because of the person-focused approach in provenance research and the question of the connection between the owner and the circumstances of a work’s sale, the focus is on the histories and the human fates behind the objects.

Volume 18 of the “Kulturgeschichtliche Spaziergänge”, providing more on this subject, is also available. It can be purchased for €12.50 from the CEDON museum shop, tel. +49 911 / 23 58 113 or online at

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