Research Method

This database contains objects from the prewar collection that were looted by the Nazis in 1943 and are still missing. The provenance category indicates these objects as LOST. Objects with unknown provenance in other collections may match a missing object in the JHM database.

A second provenance category, indicated with JHM, relates to objects in the present collection with unknown provenance and to objects that, after the war, were registered as museum property but are in fact prewar loans.

Objects the Museum acquired between 1930 and 1941 were registered in an inventory book, that reappeared in 1987. Aim of the research was a reconstruction of the fate of these objects and to determine which objects returned in the museum collection and which objects got lost.

Starting point was the description of the objects in the prewar inventory book. These descriptions may or may not contain detailed information. In order to collect as much information as possible on each individual object, we searched for these objects in museum and exhibition catalogues, Jewish and non Jewish newspapers, Jewish weekly's or other Jewish magazines. We also looked for photographs and archival documents that refer to the object.

To itemise the recovered objects as well as the missing items, the collected data was then tested against the present collection database.

Prewar label Jewish Historical MuseumOur focus was on the present inventory numbers from 1 to 600: these were the items that were registered around 1960 - five years after the re-opening of the museum - when museum staff started assigning inventory numbers to objects that had returned from Germany and to new acquisitions. 

Objects in our present collection may still have a prewar label with the prewar inventory number. To date (March 2013) two different labels were found  to have been used. The physical features of these labels may help to identify missing objects from the JHM collection.

Prewar label Jewish Historical MuseumTo date (2011), of the approximately 835 prewar objects, circa 210 have been identified in the present museum collection; around 400 items remain missing. The number of objects that actually returned may be higher, but it is impossible to identify these objects due to the brevity of their description.

Provenance research present JHM collection:

Provenance research of the present museum collection is taking place in the framework of a provenance research project, entitled Museale Verwervingen vanaf 1933 (Museum Acquisitions from 1933 onwards). Around 165 Dutch Museums are doing research into their art collections. This project that is monitored by the Netherlands Museums Association (Nederlandse Museum Vereniging or NMV) started in 2009 and will be concluded in 2013 when the NMV will launch a website with research results, illustrations and provenance history of 'problematic' objects, including the JHM report. The project is the continuation of the research project Rapport Museale Verwervingen 1940-1948 (Report Museum Acquisitions 1940-1948), that took place in 1998-1999, again, under the auspices of the Netherlands Museums Association.

The present database includes all objects of the first 650 inventory numbers of the postwar inventory book with unknown provenance. This book was taken into use after 1960 when museum employees started to register the Museum collection. In 1960, the provenance of the objects was not always known and even in later years information on how and from whom an object was acquired was not always registered. After the first 650 inventory numbers information on provenance is usually provided. Among the first 650 inventory numbers that have been looked into, no objects with problematic provenance were found.

Provenance research of the JHM collection is an ongoing process. In addition to the first 650 inventory numbers, provenance research was conducted into the paintings collection as a whole. Again, no objects with problematic provenance were found.

The research is conducted with the use of different written sources, such as  the postwar correspondence and minutes of meetings of the Jewish Historical Museum board and museum and exhibition catalogues. The collections of the Netherlands Institute for Art History (Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie or RKD) and of the Dutch Artistic Heritage Foundation (Stichting Nederlands Kunstbezit, SNK) are also consulted.

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