What responsibility do museums have, even today, in relation to art looted by the Nazis? As part of a joint project undertaken by a number of Frankfurt museums, this exhibition at the Museum Angewandte Kunst will present the story of the Pinkus/Ehrlich Collection as a case study.
In 1940, the Museum Angewandte Kunst (known at the time as the Museum für Kunsthandwerk) acquired several very valuable silver jugs, bowls and sets of cutlery belonging to the Jewish collector Joseph Pinkus, or to his heir, Hedwig Ehrlich. In 1949, the museum gave back the artefacts – except for twelve items which, according to the inventory register, had been destroyed by fire during the war. In 2017, however, researchers investigating the provenance of works in the museum’s collection were able to identify precisely those 17th and 18th-century silver objects. After the Second World War, the museum had deliberately obscured their origin.
In presenting this particular example, the exhibition will illustrate how provenance research at the museum is carried out, while at the same time underlining the importance of a culture of memory continuing into the future.
The exhibition forms part of the joint project Gekauft.Gesammelt.Geraubt? Vom Weg der Dinge ins Museum with the Historisches Museum, the Jüdisches Museum, the Weltkulturen Museum and the Fritz-Bauer-Institut, Frankfurt am Main.