Universalmuseum Joanneum / Neue Galerie
About the institution
RESTITUTION AT THE LANDESMUSEUM JOANNEUM
At the beginning of April 1998, a working group "Erwerbungen und Rückstellungen aus Jüdischem Besitz 1938-1955" (Acquisitions and Restitutions from Jewish Property 1938-1955), consisting of staff members of the Landesmuseum Joanneum, was entrusted with the task of sifting through and evaluating the file material of the war and post-war period with regard to questionable acquisitions of objects from the collection. Its objective is to determine whether holdings are still unlawfully in the museum today and to return them to the rightful owners or their heirs. At the end of 1999, a research report of about 400 pages was presented to the Steiermärkischen Landesregierung (Styrian provincial government) as a result of the work. The research revealed that essentially three departments of the Landesmuseum Joanneum in Graz are affected by the subject matter: Cultural History Collection, New Gallery and Old Gallery. The following archives were contacted: Archives of the Federal Monuments Office in Vienna, Archives of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Styrian Provincial Archives in Graz as well as departmental archives. Starting from old and new inventory books, connections but also contradictions with the archival records were found. The report includes well-known names such as the Rothschild, Bondy, Gutmann, Pollak etc. collections. It covers acquisitions via Vugesta, Gestapo, Dorotheum, various other auction houses as well as trustees and galleries. For the sake of completeness, the restitutions already completed in the post-war period are also listed: By the end of the 1950s, over 95% of the art objects that had come to the Joanneum from confiscated Jewish collections during the Nazi era had been returned. However, some pieces remained in the collections, partly as so-called "erpreßte Widmungen" (extorted dedications), partly because previous owners were not known or because no claims for restitution were made.
On 14 March 2000, on the basis of the research report, the Steiermärkischen Landtag (Styrian Parliament) passed a provincial constitutional law on the restitution of questionable acquisitions from Jewish possession. Since then, with the help of the contact point of the Jewish Community in Vienna, it has already been possible to locate some heirs and to restitute their rightful property to them.
Universalmuseum Joanneum Graz