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  • Worcester Art Museum Publicizes List of Art with Incomplete History of Ownership

    WORCESTER MASS., July 5, 2000 - On July 1, the Worcester Art Museum posted on its web site (www.worcesterart.org) a list of 106 European paintings purchased between 1933 and the present that do not have complete histories of ownership (provenance). The Museum's goal in publishing this list is to obtain further information on these works of art, and to assist with the worldwide search for art that may have been confiscated during the Nazi /World War II era and never restituted. Sculpture will be added at a later date, and the site will be updated as new information is discovered.

    Inclusion on this list does not in any way indicate that the works were looted during the Nazi era. Before the objects on this list were acquired, their provenance underwent careful scrutiny. Gaps in provenance are not uncommon, and tracing the history of a work of art is often an arduous and difficult process. There are many reasons for gaps, ranging from a past owner's desire for anonymity to an absence of records of transactions. In addition, many records were lost in the war, further complicating the resolution of a work's ownership. So far, the Museum's research has not indicated that any of the works on this list were confiscated and not restituted.

    As a fundamental part of its mission, the Worcester Art Museum has always carefully researched and published works in its collection. The Museum's European collection includes 478 paintings, of which 270 were acquired since 1933. In 1974, the Museum published a catalogue of all works in its European collection, including detailed descriptions of each work's history of ownership. In 1997, the Museum began publicizing new acquisitions on its web site. In keeping with the 1998 guidelines issued by the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), the Museum focused its efforts to publicize more broadly the provenance of European paintings in its collection that were acquired between 1933-45.

    By publicizing this list, the Museum hopes it may gain further knowledge about the history of these works. If you have additional information about the provenance of any objects on this list, please contact the Director of Collections and Exhibitions by telephone at 508-799-4406, X-3005, or by fax at 508-798-5646. Thank you.

    Museum Background

    Opened to the public in 1898, the Worcester Art Museum is the second largest art museum in New England. Its exceptional 35,000-piece collection of paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, photography, prints and drawings is displayed in 36 galleries and spans 5,000 years of art and culture, ranging from Egyptian antiquities and Roman mosaics to Impressionist paintings and contemporary art. Throughout its first century, the Worcester Art Museum proved itself a pioneer: the first American museum to purchase work by Claude Monet (1910) and Paul Gauguin (1921); the first museum to bring a medieval building to America (1927); a sponsor of the first major excavation at Antioch, one of the four great cities of ancient Rome (1932); the first museum to create an Art All-State program for high school artists (1987); the originator of the first exhibition of Dutch master Judith Leyster (1993); and the first museum to focus its contemporary art programs on art of the last 10 years (1998). The Museum's hours are: Wednesday through Sunday, 11am-5pm, and Saturday 10am-5pm. Admission: FREE for members; Non-members: $8 Adults; $6 Seniors and full-time college students with current ID; FREE for youth 17 and under; FREE for everyone Saturday mornings 10am-noon sponsored by The TJX Companies and Massachusetts Electric Company. For more information, call (508) 799-4406 or visit the Museum at 55 Salisbury Street in Worcester.

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