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Provenance Research: The Provenance Research, Registration and Inventory Project “Daphne”

In the middle of 2008, the generous support of the state government of the Free State of Saxony allowed the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections) to initiate the comprehensive and multi-year provenance research, registration and inventory project “Daphne”. A key instrument of the project is the museum’s database “Daphne”, which gave the project its name and which was only developed by the Dresden based software company “Robotron” to register all objects of the 1,2 million holdings.
For the first time, thus making it a model project for all German museums, „Daphne“ allowed the systematic provenance research of all acquisitions since 1933. Here, the holdings of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections) are searched for items, which:

  • were stolen or withdrawn from their Jewish owners after 1933;
  • were obtained for the planned “Führermuseum” in Linz or were accidentally left in Dresden in 1945;
  • were forejudged in the course of the so-called “Schlossbergung” (the dissolution of all aristocratic estates) in 1945/46;
  • were confiscated or forejudged by the Soviet occupiers from the possession of the royal house of Wettin;
  • had to be left behind by so-called refugees in the GDR.

 

The problem is very difficult, even more difficult than in museums of the “old” Federal Republic of Germany. The government of the Free State of Saxony and the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections) would like to fulfil their moral responsibility, which resulted from the historic role of the Dresden museums.

The documentation of Daphne’s results is planned multi-levelled:

  1. objects whose provenance is uncertain or questionable as well as objects whose rightful owner or successor is not known to the museum will gradually be published in the Magdeburg database www.lostart.de.
  2. Starting in 2010, selected parts of the collections will be presented online.
  3. When the project is completed, the basic data of the entire museum’s holdings will be searchable online.


Contact:
Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
Prof.Dr. Gilbert Lupfer
Telephone: +49 (0) 351 / 49 14 7545
Email: Gilbert.Lupfer@skd.museum