Deutsches Theatermuseum

The Deutsches Theatermuseum (German Theatre Museum) does not have its own department of provenance research. However, since 2012, it has been taking steps to meet its obligations regarding the identification and restitution of cultural assets possibly still in the museum’s holdings that may have been seized as a result of Nazi persecution, based on the Washington Conference on Holocaust Era Assets of 1998 and the Washington Declaration of 1999 (the ‘Common Declaration by the Federal Government, the Länder and local government organisations to identify and restitute cultural property seized as a result of Nazi persecution, especially Jewish property’), that was also signed by the Federal Republic of Germany.

Kohlezeichnung von Louis Letronne, Porträt des Tenors Ranunzio Pesadori, 1.H. 19. Jh.
Eines der beiden 2014 restituierten Blätter aus der Sammlung Michael Berolzheimer
©Deutsches Theatermuseum

The Deutsches Theatermuseum is striving to make a systematic check of the provenance of objects in its holdings acquired between 1933 and the present day on the basis of existing documents and through processing concrete restitution enquiries or requests, as for example first made to the Deutsches Theatermuseum by the heirs of Michael Berolzheimer. Lacking a specialist to work permanently and exclusively on provenance-related matters, efforts are presently being made to handle individual enquiries with the cooperation and support of colleagues in the Forschungsverbund Provenienzforschung Bayern (Research Association for Provenance Research in Bavaria) and through the exchange of information with them, as well as through the external funding of at least a temporary position for project-related provenance research at the museum. Particular emphasis could then be placed on research into suspected cases of looted art with regard to purchases made by the Deutsches Theatermuseum between 1936 and 1939 through the Helbing / Weinmüller auction house.

Current provenance research projects

Other purchases made at sales held at the Weinmüller auction house and listed as new entries in the inventory ledger at the Deutsches Theatermuseums, as well as the cases of other objects in the holdings identified as having come from the ‘Michael Berolzheimer Collection’ or the ‘Siegfried Lämmle Collection’, have prompted the Deutsches Theatermuseum to pursue its provenance research in more depth. It is therefore planned to apply for a research project to make a systematic investigation and to check suspected cases of looted art among the some 300 historical, theatrical drawings and prints in the holdings of the Deutsches Theatermuseum, purchased between 1936 and 1945 at the Helbing / Weinmüller auction house.