Conference on the Return of Art from Austrian Federal Museums and Collections in New York March 4 – 5, 2010

Austrian Press Agency (02/26/2010)

New York – With art fairs taking place every year in New York during the first week of March, the Austrian Cultural Forum New York is organizing a two-day symposium on the return of art works and objects stolen during the Nazi era, in close cooperation with the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Arts, and Culture and the Israelite Religious Community (IKG) in Vienna.

By adopting the 1998 Law on Art Restitution and its amendment in 2009, the Republic of Austria created the possibility of restituting art objects stolen during the Nazi era now found in Federal museums and collections to their lawful owners or heirs. The adoption of this law and its implementation is just one example of several measures introduced by the Republic of Austria in recent years. The return of stolen art objects, which began in 1998, is remarkable viewed in international comparison.

Experience from cooperation with the lawyers of former owners of art objects or their heirs in the USA has demonstrated the need for precise information on the legal case and restitution laws in post-war Austria. This symposium aims to provide an opportunity to deal with the problems and issues attributable to different historical backgrounds and disparate legal systems. 

The first day of the symposium is dedicated to American experts and lawyers dealing with the topic. The Austrian speakers, Dr. Christoph Bazil of the Federal Ministry for Education, Arts, and Culture, Professor Georg Graf of the Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies, Professor Michael John of the University of Linz, and Leonhard Weidinger of the MAK Museum of Applied Arts will describe the legal framework and concrete measures.

On the second day, Dr. Christoph Bazil and Leonhard Weidinger will inform once displaced Austrians and their heirs on the activities and programs of the Republic of Austria.