Curators are increasingly having to become detectives, to comb their collections for Nazi loot and deal with the occasional claim. Although provenance research is a skill most art historians imbibed in their student days, they tended to be much more interested in Renaissance patrons than 20th-century tycoons. Fortunately, help is at hand, and there is now an excellent and highly practical manual on how to research provenance, published by the American Association of Museums. Part I provides a basic guide to provenance investigation, explaining how to assemble the information, library research and how best to record the findings. Part II, which is much longer, deals with the special problems of the Holocaust era, with details of the main US and European resources. The book concludes with 11 appendices, with useful information on dealer archives, biographical sources and a bibliography on Nazi loot. Although aimed at US institutions, it should also prove invaluable to European museums, as well as dealers and auctioneers—all of whom are now rightly expected to do much more in the way of “due diligence".
(American Association of Museums, Washington, 2001), 304 pp, $50 (pb) ISBN 093120173X
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Nancy Yeide, Konstantin Akinsha and Amy Walsh, The AAM guide to provenance research (American Association of Museums, Washington, 2001), 304 pp, $50 (pb) ISBN 093120173X'