The value of artworks lies not in their aesthetics alone; works of art also serve as historical testimony. Provenance research is concerned with the origin of artworks, with questions of possession and ownership. Artworks can change hands in the most varied ways: through sales, donations, confiscations, looting - or through restitution. Today, questions regarding the ownership and origin of artworks continue to have political, legal, moral and emotional dimensions.
At the Studiolo in Dresden's Residenzschloss (Royal Palace), a presentation about the Sonderauftrag Linz (Linz Special Commission) will explain how Nazi art looting was organized with Dresden as its base. Further sections of the exhibition - at the Porzellansammlung, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister and Albertinum - will deal with the various contexts of removal. These include confiscation or looting of artworks during the Nazi era, the expropriation of property from nobility after 1945 (the so-called Schlossbergung), the return of war losses, and the seizure of works by the state in East Germany.
Central to this exhibition project is the public program: Talks delivered by notable researchers will provide insight into the scope of tasks within provenance research. Public guided tours through several collections as well as opportunities for pupils of different age groups will contribute to an increased social awareness and will allow for the use of museum objects as a starting point for the exploration of regional and national political events. This special exhibition is occasioned by several anniversaries: sixty years since the repatriation of artworks from the Soviet Union; twenty years since the Washington Principles, which laid the legal foundation for the restitution of Nazi looted art; and ten years of systematic provenance research in the Daphne project at the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden.