Provenance Research and Restitution at the MAK

In accordance with the Austrian Art Restitution Act, the MAK began in 1998 to review its collection with regard to objects expropriated during the Nazi period.

Under the Nazi regime (1938–1945), more than 4,200 art objects, over 4,600 art prints, and about 2,000 books were entered into the collection of the then called “Staatliches Kunstgewerbemuseum in Wien” (State Arts and Crafts Museum in Vienna). The medium-term objective of the MAK provenance research project is the complete reviewing of these acquisitions.

In addition, research is being conducted on objects inventoried after 1945 with regard to possible confiscation under the Nazi regime and defaulted restitution.

In 2009, the Austrian Art Restitution Act was amended so as to cover all dispossessions which occurred under the Nazi regime. This implies extending the investigation period to the years from 1933 to 1938. MAK provenance researchers have already started investigating that period.
Research is conducted in cooperation with the Austrian Commission for Provenance Research (CPR). More than 60 dossiers have been compiled and more than 400 objects have been restituted since 1998.

Legal Basis and Procedures

In 1998, Austrian parliament passed the Art Restitution Act, which provided for the return of Nazi-confiscated art and cultural objects in the possession of the Austrian state to their rightful owners.
The reviewing of the collection has since been coordinated by the Austrian Commission for Provenance Research (CPR). The commission submits dossiers on individual cases to the Art Restitution Advisory Board which reports to the responsible minister with regard to the restitution of the objects in question to their previous owners or their legal successors. If an object is considered as having been expropriated with the previous owners remaining unidentifiable or the search for them or their heirs remaining unsuccessful, the object in question is handed over to the National Fund of the Republic of Austria.

Provenance research tasks at the MAK include the reviewing of the museum collection with regard to confiscated objects and the compilation of dossiers to be submitted to the CPR and the Advisory Board. Aside from the objects themselves, the main sources of information for this purpose are inventory books and files from the MAK archives. Additional information is collected at the archives of the Austrian Federal Office for the Care of Monuments, the Austrian State Archives, Vienna Municipal and Provincial Archives, and others.

One specific difficulty of provenance research at the MAK is that most objects are arts and crafts items which frequently are no unique pieces. Definite proof that the object from the MAK collection is a piece confiscated in the Nazi period hence sometimes requires intensive research.


Contact

MAK Provenance Research Officer: Rainald Franz

T +43 1 711 36-220

CPR Researcher: Leonhard Weidinger

T +43 1 711 36-258

Restitutions made since 1998

Since 1998, the Art Restitution Advisory Board has advocated, on the basis of provenance research dossiers provided by the MAK, the return of objects from the following collections:

In the following, the name “MAK” is understood to also cover all previous designations of the museum (“Austrian Museum of Art and Industry”, “State Arts and Crafts Museum in Vienna", "Austrian Museum of Applied Arts"). The images show examples of restituted items.
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Isak WUNDERLICH

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Heinrich ROTHBERGER

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Stefan POGLAYEN-NEUWALL

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Emil IWNICKI

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Hermine SCHÜTZ

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Alphonse and Clarice ROTHSCHILD

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Ernst POLLAK

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Anna KUTSCHER

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Jacques ZIEGLER

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Louis ROTHSCHILD

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Siegfried RADIN

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Elise and Erich MÜLLER

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Emma SCHIFF-SUVERO

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Anton REDLICH

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Wilhelm MÜLLER-HOFMANN

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Friederike and Siegfried HERZEL

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