Provenance research

Brooklyn Museum's detective work reveals original owners of African mask

Title: Brooklyn Museum's detective work reveals original owners of African mask
Author: Nancy Kenney
Media Outlet: The Art Newspaper
Publish Date: February 7, 2019

“The Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition will include a photograph of the successor egúngún, as well as video footage of Windmuller-Luna’s interviews with the elders and with Nigerian art and textile experts. It will invoke the ongoing role of the egúngún in Yorùbá festivals organised in the US, featuring a text contribution from Chief Ayanda Ifadara Ojeyimika Clarke, a leader of the local Brooklyn Yorùbá community, whom Windmuller-Luna consulted during the planning of the exhibition. Four other West African textiles and garments will be on display to highlight the importance of cloth in the Yorùbá belief system. And there will be text and labels in both English and Yorùbá, to underline that the Yorùbá words and names “have worth and meaning”, she says.”

Germany allocates €1.9m for museums to research colonial-era acquisitions

Title: Germany allocates €1.9m for museums to research colonial-era acquisitions
Author: Catherine Hickley
Media Outlet: The Art Newspaper
Publish Date: February 5, 2019

“An eight-member panel including Bénédicte Savoy will assess grant applications

The German government says it has allocated €1.9m this year to provenance research for artefacts that entered museum collections during the colonial era, with the funds to be administered by the German Lost Art Foundation.

(…) Grütters says that colonial history has for many decades been a “blind spot” in Germany. “Provenance research of items with a colonial context is an important contribution to a closer examination,” she said in the statement.”

Looters Beware: The British Museum Is Leading an International Task Force Fighting the Illicit Trade in Egyptian Antiquities

Title: Looters Beware: The British Museum Is Leading an International Task Force Fighting the Illicit Trade in Egyptian Antiquities
Author: Javier Pes
Media Outlet: Artnet News
Publish Date: January 21, 2019

“The British Museum is taking on a new role: international watchdog for the trade of Egyptian and Nubian artifacts. The museum is employing a team of curators solely dedicated to spotting looted ancient treasure—a move that will have far-reaching implications for collectors, dealers, and other museums.

The London-based team of experts is leading an international task force monitoring the trade in antiquities from Egypt and Sudan. Some items may have been recently looted or stolen and therefore never reported missing; others could have been sold decades ago with fake provenances to unwitting collectors—and even other museums.”

UK museums task staff with identifying 'stolen' colonial collections

Title: UK museums task staff with identifying 'stolen' colonial collections
Author: Hannah Furness
Media Outlet: The Telegraph
Publish Date: January 1, 2019

“Britain’s leading museums are employing full-time staff to revisit their colonial-era collections, in a bid to acknowledge the controversies of where they came from.

(…) “The V&A has “strengthened its commitment to provenance research”, a spokesman said, recently appointing a dedicated “Provenance and Spoliation Research Curator”, to look into the origins of the Gilbert Collection, made up of gold and silver, enamel miniatures, gold boxes and mosaics amassed through the 20th century, and coordinate the museum’s overall re-examination of where objects came from.”

(…) Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford is advertising for a research assistant to manage a labelling project, to “identify and find ways to redress a range of ethical issues in the current displays”.

Paid between £32,236 and £39,609, the successful candidate will “tackle a complex problem around historical labelling and language-use in the much-loved and criticised Pitt Rivers Museum”, with the aim to “dissect and dismantle some of the complex contested words, stereotypes and concepts that are present not only in museums but in society at large”.”