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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

World Cultural Assets: Ownership, Loss, Recovery, and Protection: Legal Protections and Provenance

The guide serves as an introduction to issues relating to world cultural heritage, spoils of war, Nazi looting, "displaced" cultural property, and provenance research.

Page Contents

Organized by resource type this section of the Libguide provides materials on the topics of:

  1. Legal Protections & Issues
  2. Provenance Research 

Click for 

  • Reference
  • Books
  • Legal Declarations
  • Organizations



Recent Declarations and Recommendations Regarding Looted Cultural Assets

From the Commission for Looted Art in Europe: 
Although the following are non-binding resolutions, they have been subscribed to by many countries as moral support for the recovery efforts of Nazi-looted assets.  The adoption of the resolutions has led to the renewed interest in provenance research into many library and museum collections.

Organizations & Institutions

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): Culture

Founded in 1945 as part of its mission UNESCO works to advance knowledge, standards and intellectual cooperation in order to protect, safeguard and manage  the tangible and intangible heritage and promote the diversity of cultural expressions and the dialogue of cultures with a view to fostering a culture of peace.

World Archaeological Congress
The World Archaeological Congress (WAC) is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization and is the only representative world-wide body of practising archaeologists. WAC seeks to promote interest in the past in all countries, to encourage the development of regionally-based histories and to foster international academic interaction. Its aims are based on the need to recognise the historical and social roles as well as the political context of archaeology, and the need to make archaeological studies relevant to the wider community.    

International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR)
The International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR) is a not-for-profit educational and research organization dedicated to integrity in the visual arts. IFAR offers impartial and authoritative information on authenticity, ownership, theft, and other artistic, legal, and ethical issues concerning art objects.

Art Institute of Chicago Provenance Research Project
Since 1997 the Art Institute of Chicago has dilligently worked to ensure that all of its collections and works have proper documentation of ownerships and history. The site provides tips on how to conduct provenance research while also providing a bibliography of the researched works that compose the Institute's own collection. 

Metropolitan Museum of Art Provenance Research Project
The purpose of the Provenance Research Project is to determine whether any paintings that have entered the Museum's collections since 1932 could have been seized or stolen by the Nazis and not subsequently restituted to their rightful owners.

Cultural Property Advice
Cultural Property Advice is a comprehensive on-line advisory service to help you to collect, buy and sell art, antiques and antiquities legitimately and with confidence. It provides a reliable, accurate and practical source of information and guidance on cultural property including: exporting and importing cultural objects; current legislation; news on stolen and illicitly traded objects; and lots of checklists and factsheets to support what you are doing.