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Due diligence: provenance of museums collections

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Background on MFA’s Research The main objective of the MFA’s research on the Nazi-era provenance is to show objects in the collection, which were taken or lost and never returned to their original owners. The Museum of Fine Arts’ collection consists of about 1, 600 European paintings and about 21, 00 works of sculpture and the decorative art. Since the start of 1998, there was a systematic review of the provenance of the identified collection, which has been ongoing. The review had the goal to identify objects, which may have been seized or sold improperly during the Nazi era.

The works of art that were acquired by the museum before the year 1933, and those created after 1945 have been eliminated from consideration (Cochrane, 2007). Almost half of the European paintings have several histories of ownership that precluded their transfer in Europe during the era. Many people were included in those families that lived in Boston in the late 19th century, and they came directly to the MFA from those families. However, there are other paintings that have histories of ownership, but they contain little information or have gaps in the years 1933-1945.

That is why these objects are subject to further research by the museum. On the other end, the intensive research on the sculpture and decorative arts collection was started in the year 2004. Currently, the online records are still undergoing further research, and if new information is acquired, they may be added to the online collections of the databases. Challenges with Provenance and Due diligence There are several reasons as to why the gaps in provenance exist. These reasons range from the past owner’s desire for anonymity towards the absence of records used during the transactions.

However, it is probably very hard to resolve the provenance gaps that happen in the period in question due to loss of records. Despite the fact that most objects with gaps never have problematic pasts, there are several methodologies being put in to consideration to identify more information about them. From the list of works, the objects have been identified and recognized by the MFA as the priorities of the research. A change of hands in Europe was done between 1933 and 1945.

Additionally, they are related with the individuals who experienced the feeling of property loss as a result of the Nazi persecution. Each single object has been subjected to careful examination by the curators, and, however, still has unresolved issues regarding the history of the property (Yeide, et al. , 2001).

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preview essay on Due diligence: provenance of museums collections
  • Pages: 11 (2750 words)
  • Document Type: Essay
  • Subject: Unsorted
  • Level: Undergraduate
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