Ahnensaal | Bundesdenkmalamts, Hofburg (Säulenstiege), Vienna , January, 17, 2018, 4 p.m.
Presentation: Handbook on Judaica Provenance Research
Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek, Julie-Marthe Cohen, Wesley Fisher
This online Handbook is meant to help museum staff, researchers, auctioneers, collectors, lawyers, private persons, dealers and other interested parties to trace Judaica objects that were looted or displaced during the 20th century, especially during World War II. These objects may be found in Jewish and non-Jewish museum collections; in private collections; in Jewish institutions such as communities, synagogues, seminaries; and on the market. While some similar guides or manuals exist regarding provenance research on looted art, nothing comparable to date has existed for Judaica.
The Handbook covers research of two different categories: classical provenance research, which deals with tracing an object at hand to its original owner, and research which deals with establishing the location of a lost object. It consists of four parts:
• The first part provides an overview of prewar Judaica and Jewish museum collections, an overview of Nazi agencies engaged in the looting of Jewish material culture, the looting of Judaica, the dispersion of the objects after World War II and, briefly, the nationalizations of Judaica before, during and after the war.
• The second part deals with the identification of Judaica objects and is intended especially for people who are not familiar with this kind of material culture. It gives a typology of Judaica and offers tools to identify an object (origin, age, region, material, etc.).
• Part three explains how provenance and location can be established by the use of specific documentation and where this kind of documentation may be found.
• Part four offers a listing of online databases, and a bibliography of Jewish museum and exhibition catalogues as well as of other relevant literature.
The authors of the Handbook are Julie-Marthe Cohen, curator of cultural history at the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam; Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek, free-lance curator, consultant to Jewish museums and university lecturer, who was previously chief curator at the Jewish Museum Vienna; and Ruth Jolanda Weinberger, historian for the Claims Conference-WJRO Looted Art and Cultural Property Initiative.
Link to the Handbook