The Mission de recherche et de restitution des biens culturels spoliés entre 1933 et 1945 (M2RS) (Mission for the Research and Restitution of Cultural Property Spoliated between 1933 and 1945) is a department of the General Secretariat of the French Ministry of Culture, attached to the Department of Legal and International Affairs.
It is responsible for piloting and coordinating public research, repair and remembrance policy for the spoliation of cultural property. It helps to identify and better understand works of dubious provenance held by public institutions.
The Mission has two main objectives:
Creation of the M2RS
The Mission was created in April 2019 by decree of the Minister of Culture follows the request of the Prime Minister, expressed on the occasion of the commemoration of the roundup of the Vél' d'Hiv' on July 22, 2018, to "do better" in the research and restitution of works of art looted from Jewish families.
The creation of the M2RS goes hand in hand with the strengthening of the role of the Commission for the compensation of victims of spoliation (CIVS) , a commission placed under the Prime Minister, established in 1999, whose competences in terms of compensation for the spoliation of property cultural facilities were expanded in October 2018.
The M2RS extends the action previously carried out by the French Museums Service of the General Directorate of Heritage and Architecture of the Ministry of Culture, in terms of research and restitutions.
Objectives and missions
The M2RS is a service of the General Secretariat of the Ministry of Culture (Legal and International Affairs Service). It is responsible for piloting and coordinating public research, repair and remembrance policy for the spoliation of cultural property. It helps to identify and better understand works of dubious provenance held by public institutions.
The M2RS answers any questions from descendants of despoiled families, researchers, museums, libraries, merchants, auction houses, etc. To contact the M2RS: firstname.lastname@example.org
The main activities of the M2RS are as follows:
1. Respond to requests from families and heirs of looted owners, who are looking for works looted in France or present today in French public collections. Requests from families may lead to the opening at the CIVS of a file for reparation of anti-Semitic spoliation, the cultural aspect of which is examined by the M2RS.
2. Identify the looted works kept by public institutions with a view to their restitution to the heirs of the looted owners. This work is carried out in close collaboration with the museums and libraries that house these works. More precisely, it is a question of:
- identifying the spoliated works and their owners among the MNR works ( “National Museums recovery” );
- to identify the spoliated works entered in the national collections, and more broadly the public collections (collections of the territorial collectivities), since 1933 and until today.
3. Provide expertise on the provenance of cultural goods at various stages of their journey: acquisition by a museum or library, sale on the art market, application for an export certificate, presentation of the work to the public, etc
4. Raising awareness among the public and all professionals of the importance of the history of spoliated families, of researching the provenance of works and of scientific cooperation on the history and mechanisms of spoliation and restitution, in a multidisciplinary manner: training, mediation in museums and libraries, communication, etc.
Areas of competence
The M2RS is competent:
The main part of the spoliations is made up of the spoliations targeting the Jews, organized by the Nazi regime and its accomplices, or intervened because of Nazism.
A close partnership with the Commission for the Compensation of Victims of Spoliation (CIVS)
The M2RS examines files relating to cultural property spoliated between 1933 and 1945.
Among these, anti-Semitic spoliation that occurred during the Occupation in France falls within the jurisdiction of the CIVS, an advisory commission attached to the Prime Minister, which offers the latter remedial measures (compensation or restitution). In this case, the file is examined by the M2RS, which transmits the results of its research to the CIVS.
Files can be submitted by applicants either to the CIVS or to the M2RS.
The website of the Mission provides sections on:
Request for restitution or compensation
Cultural property MNR and Base Rose Valland (MNR-Jeu de Paume)
Historical and legal documentation
Provenance research, tools and method
Museum and library professionals
1. Within the section Request for restitution or compensation are the following areas:
Who can submit a file?
What place and what date of spoliation?
2. Within the section Looted cultural property are the following areas:
The concept of spoliation
Modes of spoliation
Looted cultural property
Books and libraries
Musical instruments and sheet music
Works of art from public museums
Restitution of spoliated works kept in public institutions
3. Within the section Cultural property MNR and Base Rose Valland (MNR-Jeu de Paume) are the following areas:
What is an MNR?
Rose Valland database MNR-Jeu de Paume
Distribution and localization
Restitution of works National Museums Recovery
4. Within the section Historical and legal documentation are the following areas:
Spoliation of cultural property
Restitution from 1944 to the early 1950s
Continuation and relaunch of the process at international and national level
Legal texts and international commitments
The 2008 exhibition “To whom belonged these paintings? »
5. Within the section Provenance research, tools and method are the following areas:
What is provenance research?
Training in provenance research
Directory of spoliated property
Provenance research on books
Provenance research on musical instruments
Useful sites for research
6. Within the section Museum and library professionals are the following sections:
Obligations related to MNR
Research work on collections
Vigilance during acquisitions
https://www.culture.gouv.fr/Nous-connaitre/Organisation-du-ministere/Le-secretariat-general/Mission-de-recherche-et-de-restitution-des-biens-culturels-spolies-entre-1933-et-1945 accessed 25 October 2022