Symposium on “Art Looting and Restitution” Held at Vienna’s Urania

News from Austria (Austrian Federal Chancellery)

On January 18, 2007 a symposium on “Art Looting and Restitution” was held at Vienna’s Urania. Experts discussed the practice and future of art restitution. Predictions as to when research on the provenance of art works and restitution will be concluded cannot be made at this point, stated researcher on restitution and co-organizer, Michael Wladika.

Among the subjects discussed was the provenance research currently being conducted at the Museum of Applied Arts (MAK), on 420 objects of art, comprising 20% of the acquisitions of the NS period, which has yet be determined. According to Monika Mayer, provenance researcher at the Österreichische Galerie, the current status of about 600 paintings and sculptures is still unclear. Hannah Lessing presented the art database established by the National Fund for the Victims of National Socialism launched in October 2006 and containing some 8,000 objects of art. One half comes from Federal museums and the other half from museums belonging to the City of Vienna. Walter Hellmich, Chairman of the Vienna Restitution commission, gave an overview of the activities in Vienn and illustrated the dimension of the work undertaken: 40,000 objects of the municipal library as well as 24,300 acquisitions by museums had to be classified as “dubious” just based on the date of acquisition.