The objects contained in the Hunt Collection which are managed by the Hunt Museum Ltd number 1,947 individual objects. Since May 2005 a systematic review of the provenance of the collection managed by the Hunt Museum has been ongoing, with a current focus of identifying objects that may have been sold or traded during the Nazi era.
Researching decorative arts collections is not an easy task, as, by their nature, decorative arts objects, unlike many fine art objects, are non-unique. Therefore, ascertaining information about a specific object, which may in fact be one of thousands manufactured is exceptionally difficult, if not, at times, impossible.
There are many reasons for gaps in provenance, ranging from a past owner’s desire for anonymity to an absence of records of transactions. Resolving provenance gaps for the period in question may be further complicated by the fact that records were lost or destroyed during the Second World War. Although it is probable that most of the objects with gaps do not have problematic pasts efforts are underway to obtain more information about them.
Essentially objects in the care of the Hunt Museum Ltd are classified as high priority objects or low priority objects. The criteria supporting these classifications are explained below.
Objects rated high priority are those which have a higher likelihood of having been or are known to have been on the continent of Europe during the period 1933-1945. This is a large group and has been further divided into three sub-groups: 1a, 1b and 1c.
Many of the objects rated high priority have histories of ownership that contain very little detail or have long gaps. Intensive research on these objects was begun in 2005. The project is still at an early stage. The online records displayed here are currently undergoing further research. As additional information comes to light, it will be added to the database.
- Objects which are unique and easily identifiable. This includes all fine art objects: paintings, sculpture and drawings except for those known not to have been outside Britain or Ireland in the relevant period.
- Objects of high craftsmanship which are easily identifiable, e.g. small ivory pieces, crucifix figures. Many of these are medieval objects. Some jewellery also falls into this category.
- Exceptional archaeological objects. These include Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Etruscan objects. A small number of Irish and English objects are included here.
- This group includes ceramics, armour, silver ware and jewellery together with various other objects.
- These are objects often produced in large quantities but it is still possible, although often difficult, to identify them individually.
- Objects which would be difficult to identify individually.
- Objects which are mounts or part of larger objects.
- Incomplete or broken objects.
- Very common objects. For example beads, stones.
Objects rated low priority are those which have a lesser likelihood of having been or are known not to have been on the continent of Europe during the period 1933-1945. As is the case with the High Priority Objects, this is a large group and has been further divided into three sub-groups: 2a and 2b.
- This group contains objects which it is considered are at very low risk of having been on the continent of Europe during the period 1933-1945.
- Archaeological objects. For the most part they are rated as low priority as many objects are not unique or easily identifiable individually, e.g. arrowheads, flints, axeheads.
- A high proportion of such objects in the museum are of Irish or English origin and very unlikely to have been outside Ireland or Britain during the period in question.
- Objects made since 1945.
- Objects on loan to the Hunt Museum from lenders other than the Hunt Family.
- Objects originating from the Custom House before it was refurbished.
- Objects donated to the Hunt Museum after 1997.
The inclusion of any object on the database does not in any way demonstrate that it was looted or improperly acquired. Each object has undergone examination by the Provenance Research Project Team. It is accepted that the majority of objects still have unresolved questions regarding its history. The database will be updated as further information becomes available.
We have provided links to other websites maintained by organizations and institutions worldwide that are committed to assisting in research in this area. We welcome suggestions for additional links.
Nazi-Era Provenance Internet Portal <www.nepip.org>
American Association of Museums: Nazi-era provenance <www.aam-us.org/museumresources/prov/index.cfm>
Commission for Looted Art in Europe <www.lootedartcommission.com>
International Foundation for Art Research <www.ifar.org>
International Council of Museums (ICOM) <icom.museum>
National Museum Directors' Conference (UK), Spoliation of Works of Art during the Holocaust and World War II period <nationalmuseums.org.uk>
Dutch and Flemish Art stolen by the Nazis during World War II <www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/archives/dossiers/schloss/>
Herkomst gezocht/Origins Unknown (The Netherlands) <www.herkomstgezocht.nl>
Wartime Losses - Polish Painting <www.polamcon.org/lostart>
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC: World War II resources <www.nga.gov/resources/ww2res.htm>
Association of Art Museum Directors, Task Force Report <www.aamd.org/papers/guideln.php>
Catalogue of the Musées Nationaux Récupération (France) <www.culture.gouv.fr/documentation/mnr/pres.htm>
Getty Provenance Index <piweb.getty.edu/cgi-bin/starfinder/0?path=collab.txt&id=webber&pass=webber&OK=OK>
Holocaust Era Assets: Records and research at the National Archives & Records Administration, USA <www.archives.gov/research/holocaust>
Lost Art Internet Database <www.lostart.de>
Museum Security Network <www.museum-security.org/index1.html>
Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the USA <www.pcha.gov>
Project for the Documentation of Wartime Cultural Losses <docproj.loyola.edu>
US Holocaust Memorial Museum: Restitution Resources <www.ushmm.org/assets/ushmm4.htm>
The AAM Guide to Provenance Research by Nancy H. Yeide, Konstantin Akinsha, Amy L. Walsh. American Association of Museums: Washington DC, 2001. ISBN 0-931201-73-X.
Museum Policy and Procedures for Nazi-Era Issues compiled by Helen J. Wechsler, Teri Coate-Saal and John Lukavic. Professional Practice Series. AAM Technical Information Service: Washington DC, 2001. ISBN 0-931201-78-0.
A Handbook for Museum Trustees by Harold and Susan Skramstad. Published in cooperation with the Museum Trustee Association. AAM, Washington DC: 2003. ISBN 0-931201-83-7.
Museum Ethics edited by Gary Edson. Routledge, London and New York: 1997. ISBN 0-415138-11-6.
ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums - 2004 edition <icom.museum/ethics.html>
ICOM Study on the Principles, Conditions, and Means for the Restitution and Return of Cultural Property in View of Reconstituting Dispersed Heritages (1977)
UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, Nov. 14, 1970. 823 UNTS 231 (1972)
UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects, Jun. 24, 1995. 34 ILM 1322.