23 September 2012

Canadian problematic

The New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany,Inc. (also known as “the Claims Conference”) collated the following information on Canadian institutions and their commitment to provenance research into works and objects of art misplaced and stolen during the Nazi era, the Holocaust, and the Second World War. For further information about the Claims Conference survey, please go to http://www.claimscon.org/index.asp?url=artworks/national.

Note that in 2012 the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal suppressed on its website the link to provenance research and that the CanadianHeritage Information Network (CHIN) does not display any provenance information on the cultural objects for which it provides basic information—namely an image and a descriptive summary.

You be the judge…

Country Information

2001: The Canadian MuseumAssociation (CMA) and the Canadian Jewish Congress organized the Canadian Symposium on Holocaust-era Cultural Property (http://www.museums.ca/media/Pdf/holocaustsymposium.pdf).

2006: In part due to the initiative taken by the Claims Conference, the Department of Canadian Heritage commissioned the Canadian Art Museum Directors Organization (CAMDO) to conduct a survey of its members by seeking information about the state of provenance research. The report can be accessed here: http://www.pch.gc.ca/pc-ch/org/sectr/cp-ch/p-h/publctn/camdo/camdo-eng.pdf.

Online Databases
a) National Gallery Provenance Site: http://cybermuse.gallery.ca

b) Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Provenance Site: http://www.mmfa.qc.ca/en/provenance/index.html

c) Art Gallery of Ontario Provenance Site: http://www.ago.net/spoliation-research

d) Beaverbrook Art Gallery, New Brunswick, Provenance Site: http://www.beaverbrookartgallery.org/collections-research.asp

The plan was for the on-line Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) to add a field to the Artefacts Canada national database that would allow participating institutions to note whether individual cultural objects have a gap in provenance. As it turns out, that was wishful thinking. The Canadian government is committed to complete opacity on the question of looted art in its Federal, Provincial and Municipal collections.

The CHIN database can be found at: http://www.pro.rcip-chin.gc.ca/sommaire-summary/humaines_bases-humanities_database-eng.jsp.