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Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College
87 North Main Street, Oberlin, OH 44074
440.775.8665

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The Allen's collection is particularly strong in 17th century Dutch and Flemish painting, Japanese prints, early modern art, African art, and more.

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Nazi-era

Paul Cézanne (French, 1839-1906) Paul Cézanne (French, 1839-1906), Viaduct at L'Estaque, 1882, R.T. Miller Jr. and Mrs. F. F. Prentiss Funds, 1950.3

Between 1933 and 1945, the Nazi regime and its collaborators orchestrated the widespread and systematic theft, coercive transfer, confiscation, looting, pillage, and destruction of cultural property across Europe. Millions of art and cultural objects were unlawfully and often forcibly taken from their rightful owners. Some were sold to fund the regime; others entered the private collections of party officials.

In 1943, the United States and its allies joined together to protect monuments and cultural objects from destruction and to recover and restitute illegally confiscated works. Approximately 345 museum directors, curators, art historians, librarians, educators, artists, and architects joined the newly formed Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives (MFAA) program under the Civil Affairs and Military Government Sections of the Allied Armies. These “Monuments Men and Women” recovered hundreds of thousands of works of art and returned them to their former owners or their heirs. When owners could not be located because they had fled or were killed in the war or the Holocaust, works were returned to the country from which they had been taken. Despite these efforts, thousands of works of art looted by the Nazi regime remain unaccounted for. Some may have been destroyed; others may have been purchased in good faith on the international art market by museums and collectors.

Many of the Monuments Men and Women went on to prominent careers, including Charles P. Parkhurst ’38, director of the AMAM from 1949 to 1962. We strive to continue Parkhurst’s legacy through attentive provenance research on works in our collection. In recognition of the unprecedented looting of the Nazi regime, the AMAM maintains a list of all European paintings (see the below gallery) likely in continental Europe between 1933 and 1945 whose ownership changed during those years or whose provenance is unknown during that time. This list is also published on the Nazi-Era Provenance Internet Portal, a central registry for U.S. museums maintained by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM).

As a member of the AAM and the Association of Art Museum Directors, the Allen is committed to following the Standards Regarding the Unlawful Appropriation of Objects During the Nazi Era agreed upon by both organizations and to examining the provenance of works in its collection to determine whether any may have been unlawfully appropriated during the Nazi era without subsequent restitution.


Gallery of Nazi-era works

The following European paintings in the AMAM collection were likely in continental Europe between 1933 and 1945 and have incomplete provenance or changes in ownership during those years.

A gap in provenance or a change in ownership does not necessarily mean that a work was stolen or seized. In the majority of cases, gaps in provenance reflect incomplete record keeping by previous owners.

Provenance research is a regular, ongoing part of curatorial work at the AMAM. As new information about our European works during the Nazi era becomes available, it will be made publicly available here.

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