Looted Art & Cultural Property Grants
The Claims Conference makes grants to support research into the spoliation of looted cultural and religious property. Below are examples of projects we support.
Created by the American Association of Museums, NEPIP was a searchable registry of objects in U.S. museum collections that changed hands in Continental Europe during the Nazi era (1933-1945). As of October 2020, 179 museums are participating with 29,792 objects listed.
Looted Books/Torah Scrolls
Jewish Museum, Prague
Digitization of the Terezin collection as well as research on previous owners of books held by the library of the Jewish Museum in Prague.
Menora (The Authority for the Repatriation of Diaspora Synagogues to Israel)
Repairing of Torah scrolls from Romania through Menora.
Sponsorship of the publication of “Neglected Witnesses. The Fate of Jewish Ceremonial Objects During the Second World War and After.” edited by Julie-Marthe Cohen, Jewish Historical Museum of Amsterdam and Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek, Jewish Museum of Vienna, 2011.
Sponsorship of the publication of “”Art in the Flames of War: Western European Paintings in the Collection of the Simferopol Art Museum. Catalogue and Album” by S.I. Kot and L.V. Kudriasheva, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, 2015.”
Sponsorship of the publication by the Theodor Kramer Gesellschaft of a study of art dealers in Nazi-era Austria.
The Claims Conference helps support ProjectJudaica, established in 1991, a joint venture between the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and the Russian State University for the Humanities (RSUH) in Moscow. Among its publications are archival surveys of the former Soviet Union, such as Jewish Documentary Sources in the Regional Archives of the Ukraine: A Guide(in Russian), edited and compiled by Efim Melamed (2009); Jewish Documentary Sources in Kiev Archives: A Guide (in Russian), edited by Efim Melamed and Mark Kupovetsky (2006); and Nazi-Looted Jewish Archives in Moscow: A Guide to Jewish Historical and Cultural Collections in the Russian State Military Archive, edited by Dr. David E. Fishman, Mark Kupovetsky, and Vladimir Kuzelenkov (2011).
National Archives of the Netherlands
The Claims Conference has co-funded the online presentation of Dutch postwar art claim files.
Created by the Dutch government to conduct provenance research into the state art collection (NK collection). Origins Unknown worked on the Project Missing Works of Art with the aim to give an overview of stolen and traded art treasuries during the Second World War.
As of September 2018, the database compiled by the Origins Unknown Agency and it’s website have been transferred to the Expert Centre Restitution of NIOD.
Center for Jewish Art of the Hebrew University
The Claims Conference has co-funding the scanning and digitization of the extensive files of the Center for Jewish Art.
The Edward Blank YIVO Vilna Collections Project is a 7-year international project to preserve, digitize, and virtually reunite YIVO’s prewar library and archival collections located in New York City and Vilnius, Lithuania, through a dedicated web portal. The project will also digitally reconstruct the historic, private Strashun Library of Vilna, one of the great prewar libraries of Europe.
The Claims Conference/WJRO cooperates with the Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe in regard to its Yerusha project that aims to collect and encourage surveys of Jewish documentary heritage in Europe. Yerusha’s goal is to bring together primary sources beyond national boundaries in an attempt to discover new and relevant documents. Yerusha will eventually be an online portal of results of already completed surveys.
Grants to Holocaust-Related Archives
The Claims Conference is a major supporter of the archives of Yad Vashem, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and many other Holocaust-related archives worldwide. While grants made to these archives are for purposes far broader than documentation concerning looted art and cultural property, the sponsored activities are frequently relevant to cultural property concerns.
The exhibit “Afterlives: Recovering the Lost Stories of Looted Art” is currently shown at the Jewish Museum New York. The exhibition traces the timelines of individual objects as they passed through hands and sites before, during, and after World War II.
“The Book Smugglers” exhibit at the Holocaust Museum Houston, based on David Fishman’s 2017 book The Book Smugglers: Partisans, Poets, and the Race to Save Jewish Treasures from the Nazis. The exhibition illuminated the covert operation by Jewish prisoners (also known as the “Paper Brigade”) in the Vilna ghetto to hide and save rare Jewish books and manuscripts from the Nazis.
“Provenance Research and Cultural Heritage” exhibition presented by the European Shoah Legacy Institute (ESLI) at the European Parliament in connection with ESLI efforts in cooperation with the EU Committee on Legal Affairs to introduce a legislative initiative into the European Parliament, with the predominant aim of promoting provenance research and combatting the trafficking of plundered cultural heritage.
“Reclaimed: Paintings from the Collection of Jacques Goudstikker” presented by the Jewish Museum of New York.
“Auktion 392” touring exhibition presented by the Ben Uri Gallery: The London Jewish Museum of Art.
Funding toward the post-production of Vishniac, about the life and work of photographer Roman Vishniac, best known for his iconic images of Jews in Eastern Europe before WWII.
Funding toward the post-production of The Goering Catalogue, which focuses on the detailed inventory of looted art discovered within the diplomatic archives of the French Foreign Office. The film investigates how Hermann Goering built an impressive collection of artworks by setting up an enterprise to steal the property of thousands of Jewish families.
Funding toward the post-production of The Liegnitz Plot, which investigates the tale of an unnamed Nazi officer who is believed to have stolen priceless stamp collections from Jewish families during the Holocaust.
Training in Provenance Research
The Claims Conference has encouraged and assisted efforts to train current and future experts worldwide in provenance research (documenting the ownership history of an object from inception to the present day) and related issues concerning Nazi-looted art, Judaica, and other cultural property.
Before the past decade there was a near-absence of training programs to develop and refine critical research and analytical skills in the emerging discipline of provenance research. Ever since the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets in 1998, there had been numerous calls to promote such programs, but to no avail. The Prague Conference on Holocaust Era Assets Conference in 2009 reaffirmed the crying need for such a program, preferably one that would reflect the international nature of provenance research and that would lead to a worldwide community of specialists in this area.
Accordingly the Claims Conference helped create, administer, and fund the Provenance Research Training Program (PRTP) under the auspices of the European Shoah Legacy Institute (ESLI). Five sessions were held from 2012 to the end of 2014, in Magdeburg, Germany; Zagreb, Croatia; Vilnius, Lithuania; Athens, Greece; and Rome, Italy with the cooperation of the respective governments. Over 180 participants received training from over 30 experts from 13 different countries who gave lectures and presentations.