Council of American Jewish Museums Resolutions on Nazi-era Looted Art

The Council of American Jewish Museums, representing over 75 member Jewish museums throughout the United States and Canada, supports and encourages the wider efforts of the American Association of Museums, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany/World Jewish Restitution Organization and others to promote the return of looted, or otherwise displaced, Nazi-era, cultural property to its former pre-War owners or their heirs.

The Council of American Jewish Museums also recognizes the unique, distinct position that Jewish museums hold with regard to the issue of Nazi-era, looted, or otherwise displaced, cultural property.We appreciate that often our member museums were depositories of choice for owners of Judaica, as well as for the distributors of heirless property, particularly the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, Inc., established in 1947 and recognized by the American government as the trustee of heirless Jewish cultural property found in the American zone of Germany following World War II.

Further, the Council of American Jewish Museums is aware of the landmark internationally recognized principles of the December 3, 1998 Washington Conference and calls upon all our members to balance the special issues affecting our collections with the broader international call for provenance research.When doing so, we encourage our member institutions to abide by the following American Association of Museums General Principles with regard to Holocaust-era art, works of applied art, Judaica, books, manuscripts, archival material, ephemera, and household articles to their best abilities:

1. Identify all objects in their collections that were created before 1946 and acquired by the museum after 1932, that underwent a change of ownership between 1932 and 1946, and that were or might reasonably be thought to have been in continental Europe between those dates

2. Make currently available object and provenance information on those objects accessible.

3. Give priority to continuing provenance research as resources allow.

Further, we stand behind the American Association of Museums’ specific guidelines and procedures with reference to acquisitions, loans, existing collections, claims of ownership, fiduciary obligations, that are available online at:

AAM Guidelines
AAM Recommended Procedures

Co-authored by Karen S. Franklin, Director of Family Research, Leo Baeck Institute, NY and Rhoda Rosen, Director, Spertus Museum, Chicago.