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Collectie NIOD, Beeldbank WO2, nummer 5222

Expert Centre Restitution

The Expert Centre Restitution (ECR) conducts independent, impartial research – both autonomously and on commission – into the loss of cultural goods under the Nazi regime and into restitution. The ECR investigates individual restitution applications at the request of the Restitution Committee and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. With its independent fundamental scientific research, the ECR contributes to the advancement of knowledge in relation to theft, restitution and provenance research.

Investigating individual applications for restitution

The ECR investigates individual applications for restitution at the request of the Restitution Committee (the advisory committee on requests for the restitution of cultural goods and the Second World War). The ECR records the results in research reports, which are not made public. The Restitution Committee’s recommendations are based on these reports and often contain a summary of the relevant facts established during the investigation. The committee publishes the recommendations on its website.

If the current owner of an item of cultural value and the person who is applying for restitution need an independent and impartial investigation into the facts, but have not submitted or have yet to submit a restitution request to the Restitution Commission, they can also ask the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands to commission an investigation. If you would like to know more about the possibilities and conditions, please contact the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands.

Scientific research on art theft and restitution

The Expert Centre conducts scientific research on the history of and current developments in art theft and restitution, particularly with regard to the Nazi regime. The centre also promotes awareness of the field with its contribution to higher education, among other things. In this context, the ECR is participating or involved in the following projects:

PPROCE: the pilot project Provenance Research on Objects of the Colonial Era is a joint project with Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, which aims to develop a methodology for provenance research on collections from the colonial era.

Pressing Matter: contributing to (and participating in) a funded National Research Agenda project, focusing on provenance research on objects from the colonial era.

The paper witnesses of looting and disenfranchisement: this project uses crowdsourcing to improve digital access to the thousands of forms in the archive of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, which contain details of looted household effects from homes vacated by deported Jews.

The Mauritshuis in Wartime: a joint study with the Mauritshuis and the RKD Netherlands Institute for Art History on the history of the Mauritshuis in and around the Second World War.

More information:

  • The Restitution Committee (the advisory committee on requests for the restitution of cultural goods and the Second World War), which was established by the State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science in 2001, makes recommendations with regard to individual restitution requests.
  • Since 1 January 2022, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands has been the first point of contact for original owners and their surviving relatives/heirs and collection managers with questions about restitution policy, restitution procedures and provenance research.
  • The provenance of the objects in the Nederlands Kunstbezit-collectie, the collection of recovered objects managed by the Dutch State, is being investigated. Information about the objects can be found at the websites and Herkomst Gezocht.
  • Some Dutch museums have conducted research into the provenance of works of art in their collections. The Museums Association (Museumvereniging) provides information about this research at the website Museale Verwervingen vanaf 1933. The website also displays artworks that may have been involuntarily lost as a result of the Nazi regime.
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