Published: December 19, 2000
Possible Nazi-looted Works of Art Now Accessible Online
BOSTON, MASS. – The MFA has delivered on a promise that it made in May in response to community concerns over artwork that had possibly been looted by the Nazis.
Last April activists were concerned that major museums across the nation may possess European artworks that were looted or extorted from Jewish owners by Nazi forces and their collaborators. The activists called for the museums to post a listing of their European artworks on the Internet with a complete provenance.
MFA director Malcolm Rogers saw merit in their suggestion, but he felt that at the MFA it could be accomplished in the larger context of a Web site with selections from the entire MFA collection. He announced in April that the museum had been working on such a site for two years, and that it was scheduled for a December launch. That launch occurred on December 18.
The Online Collections Base that can be reached through the museum’s Web site, www.mfa.org, lists almost 15,000 objects from all nine curatorial departments. For each rdf_Description, the site provides a description, provenance, and an indication where the rdf_Description can be seen if it is currently being exhibited. About one-third of all objects are shown with digital images.
Coinciding with the launch of the Online Collections Base, the museum posted its handbook MFA: A Guide to the Collection on the site.
It should also be noted that in October the MFA reached a settlement regarding one disputed painting in its possession, “Adoration of the Magi,” by Corrado Giaquinto. The museum and the heirs of the 1940 owner Frederico Gentili di Giuseppe have agreed to a partial purchase/partial gift, and the painting now belongs to the MFA. The work was previously believed to have been painted by Pietro da Cortona, and it was described as such in earlier press accounts.
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