Looted–Recovered. Cultural Goods – the Case of Poland

November 12–14, 2014

An international specialist conference, organized by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the International Cultural Centre, will address the topic of the restitution of artworks in Poland in the European context. Registration is open from September 3.

Opening – watch the movie

The tragedy of World War II brought the “relocation” of a vast number of artworks. The advent of Communism in Poland prevented open discussion about the looting of artworks both by the Third Reich and by the Soviet Union. After the political watershed in 1989 the question of restitution of artworks returned to the arena. 

The primary aim of this conference is to showcase Polish experiences in the field of restitution in the context of other countries’ policy and legal solutions in the matter. Another objective is to promote knowledge on this lost portion of cultural heritage and to raise awareness of the scale of war losses in Poland.

Within the framework of the conference three main topics will be addressed during three panels. During the first one, concerned with Poland’s war losses, the speakers will discuss issues related to the looting of artworks in Poland by the Nazis and the Red Army. Experts will present the history of cultural artifacts in the East of Poland, the scale of loss of private collectors on the example of Warsaw citizens, as well as the losses the Polish Jews, so crucial from the point of view of the lost multiculturalism of the prewar Polish Republic. 

During the second panel devoted to the documentation of war losses and the research on the provenance of artworks, specialists from Europe and the United States will discuss their experience in the matter.

The closing panel will address the process of restitution. Broad legal aspects of restitution will be explained. At the same time, experts will attempt to define main challenges and problems of restitution in Poland and abroad. 

The participants of the conference will have an opportunity to take part in workshops on provenance and in a field session at the Wawel Royal Castle. The guided tour will include the presentation of the painting “Palace Stairs” by Francesco Guardi. The masterpiece was reclaimed by the Polish government from Germany in April 2014 and brought to Krakow from the National Museum in Warsaw especially for the occasion.

We invite museum specialists, archivists, librarians, and all those either involved or interested in the issue of restitution to registrate.  Due to the limited number of seats, the booking process will follow the order of applications. 

Admission is free. 

Conference venue: The International Cultural Centre

The Department of War Losses working within the framework of the Department of Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage
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