Provenance Research:

1 September 2015: Provenance Research in Switzerland: Recent Developments

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While Switzerland's official position is that the publication of provenance research on the internet is an important goal, virtually no research has been undertaken at most Swiss museums since the Swiss endorsement of the Washington Principles in 1998.

Any initiative has come from the Federal Office of Culture which officially supports the commitment to provenance research. Research was carried out over a decade ago into the small federal collection. It created a website - www.bak.admin.ch/rk -  which allows museums to publish their research. It is currently evaluating the website to see if the content and presentation of the information can be improved.
In 2007 the Federal Office of Culture established a working group of the Federal Department of Home Affairs, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the cantons (Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education, EDK) and museum associations (Association of Museums in Switzerland, VMS, Swiss Art Museums Association, VSK) on issues related to looted art.
In 2008 it carried out a survey of research and restitution in 551 Swiss museums which was published in November 2010. 461 responded. 326 responded that they were 'not at or only slightly impacted by the problem of Nazi-looted art'. 25 museums stated that they were impacted and had undertaken either comprehensive or partial provenance research; 8 replied that they had undertaken research 'to some extent'. 90 museums did not respond to the question. 261 museums (63% of respondents) stated they had conducted no research. For full details of the report, see the report 'FDHA/FDFA report on the state of work on Nazi-looted art, in particular, on the subject of provenance research' here.

In March 2015 the Federal Office of Culture convened a meeting with the 12 Swiss art museums which had officially endorsed the Washington Principles and anticipates a follow-up meeting being held in autumn 2015. These museums are the following: Aargauer Kunsthaus; Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel; Kunstmuseum Bern; Bündner Kunstmuseum; Musée d'Art et d'Histoire Genève; Kunsthaus Glarus; Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts Lausanne; Kunstmuseum Luzern; Kunstmuseum Solothurn; Kunstmuseum St.Gallen; Kunstmuseum Winterthur; Kunsthaus Zürich. Some of those 12 museums have conducted some research but it is not linked to the Federal website and only very erratically available and then not in depth on their own sites. The Office of Culture recommends that each museum be contacted individually for further information on their research progress and findings. In the future, it is planned that their provenance research will be accessible by a link to the Federal website. 

The Swiss authorities have now just announced that they plan to publish the provenance research of 164 museums and collections and link it to the Office of Culture website in 2016 and 2017 and that all these museums and collections have committed to do this. They have also announced that in 2016/2017, they will, for the first time, offer financial assistance for provenance research projects whose results will be published.

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