searchING for owners

Project for identifying the original owners of books

In 2001 the museum library launched a unique project with the aim of identifying the original owners of the books that are now part of its holdings. Exceptions include the historical library of the Jewish religious community in Prague and newly purchased or otherwise acquired titles of unclear provenance. This involves a systematic physical examination of all the volumes in the collection with the aim of determining original ownership. As part of this examination, staff have searched for records of ownership (e.g. signatures, bookplates, hand-written notes, stamps) and entered their survey findings in a separate database within the Aleph system. For reasons of time, the only data entered are identification marks (e.g. signatures, accession numbers) and basic information about the owners (institutions identified by abbreviations, individuals by their names and type of record). This database is of use not only for ascertaining the original ownership of the books but also for preparing background material for restitution claims. The library deals with such claims in accordance with the

This database is of use not only for ascertaining the original ownership of the books but also for preparing background material for restitution claims. The library deals with such claims in accordance with the  museum's restitution policy.

Investigating ownership history and the origins of objects in the Visual arts collection 

Given that no single reliable source exists that would make possible an unequivocal determination of the last legitimate owners of all the objects incorporated from the warehouses of the Prague Treuhandstelle into collection by the curators of the Central Jewish Museum over 1942–45, and given the fact that the majority of these objects – paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, or sculptures – have no specific provenance clues, the Jewish Museum in Prague calls on anyone who knows or thinks that a family member was deported to either Łódź or Terezín (Theresienstadt) from the territory of the so-called Oberlandratsbezirk Prag (the Prague administrative district of the Protectorate that encompassed the city of Prague and its immediate environs, such as Zbraslav, Roztoky, etc.) to request that background research be undertaken, a service the JMP’s professional staff performs free of charge and once a request has been submitted. This has been our policy to date, and it will continue to be so. The research entails examining all available sources and all the relevant data and information that could help in identifying any work(s) of art in our collections. For us to begin this research, the following minimum information is required: full name and date of birth, or at least year of birth, of the person(s) deported.

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