Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud


Getting the whole story on the history and origins of the holdings is a fundamental task in museum work. In this, the Wallraf Richartz Museum follows the ICOM – Code of Ethics.

Against the backdrop of National Socialism and the relocation of cultural assets – especially those from Jewish ownership – as a result of racial, religious or political persecution, the task of paying special scrutiny to the works’ provenances has been given renewed weight in recent years:

As part of the Washington Conference on Holocaust Era Assets from 3 December 1998, eleven principles were agreed on and the 44 participating states committed themselves to clarify pre-war ownership and arrive at “just and fair solutions” for the return of confiscated property or give appropriate compensation.

With the “Declaration by the Federal Government, the laender and the regional authorities on the tracing and return of Nazi-confiscated cultural assets, in particular from Jewish ownership” on 14 December 1999, all the signatories from German public institutions confirmed it as their duty to locate and return NS-confiscated art. 



In order to do justice to and support the many tasks entailed by provenance research at museums, archives and libraries, etc., in 1994 the Federal Government and the laender set up the Koordinierungsstelle Magdeburg (Coordination Centre). It runs the Lost Art Data Base – a worldwide unique documentation centre for search requests and reports of found artworks which, “through the National Socialist dictatorship and the events of the Second World War”, were relocated, moved or – especially in the case of Jewish owners – seized as part of their persecution.

Further professional and financial support is given by the Arbeitsstelle für Provenienzrecherche/-forschung set up in 2008 at the Institut für Museumsforschung der Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz. Both institutions are closely linked with researchers working at various public facilities in Germany that are dedicated to this issue. 




The Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud is one of the pioneer public institutions that already embarked on provenance research on its own holdings soon after the Washington Conference and the issuing of the "Joint Declaration".

Thanks to a project backed by the Salomon-Oppenheim-Stiftung, from May 2000 to March 2003 the spade work could be done for establishing the provenance of the holdings of paintings at the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, as well as of a number of individual objects. On 11 and 12 December 2001 the colloquium “Museen im Zwielicht - Ankaufspolitik 1933-1945” was mounted here, at which the provenance specialist Dr Katja Terlau presented the current findings from her work. Contributions to the colloquium were published in among other works the “Veröffentlichungen der Koordinierungsstelle Magdeburg” and the Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch



Since early 2015, the Stiftung "Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste" has backed the provenance research that is being done at the print collection in the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum. Under the directorship of Prof Otto Helmut Försters (1894–1975) and head of prints, Dr Helmut May (1906–1993), during the period between 1933 and 1945 the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum acquired around 2500 drawings, watercolours and prints. The aim of the project is to completely elucidate the circumstances surrounding their acquisition and to research the history of the collection and the museum itself during the era of National Socialism. 


 If you have any questions, you may contact the Referat für Museumsangelegenheiten in Cologne, where a central office has been set up for Provenance Research.

Stadt Köln
Provenance Research
Richartzstr. 2 - 4
D-50667 Cologne
Tel.: +49 (0)221 / 221 - 225 20
Fax: +49 (0)221 / 221 - 240 05