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    Origins Unknown Agency (BHG) was established by order of the Minister of Education in 1998. Following were the results from the pilot study into the state collection, the so-called Dutch Art Property (NK collection) conducted in 1997. In addition to investigating the NK collection BHG is engaged in various tasks relating to looted art.


    Missing Works of Art

    The Origins Unknown Agency was founded in 1998 at the request of the State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science in order to conduct provenance research into the Netherlands Art Property Collection (NK-collection). In addition to the approximately 5000 objects of art currently in the NK-collection, the new website also includes details of artworks that were reported missing after the Second World War.

    Bureau Herkomst Gezocht's researchers primarily use the Stichting Nederlandsch Kunstbezit (1945-1951) archive. The research method has been standardised in order to fully utilise this archive. The archival documents which definitely have to be examined in order to arrive at the correct provenance data have been determined. A file has been drawn up per art object which consists of basic documentation, correspondence, photographic material and other archival documents.

    Origins Unknown Agency has gained much knowledge since the establishment on Nazi-looted art. This knowledge is applied in the field of research and guidance to those interested. Retrieval or identifying stolen or looted cultural goods is not easy. Not every work of art that has fallen during World War II as a result of coercion from the possession of the original owner has subsequently ended up in Germany. Part of the stolen cultural property was auctioned or sold in the Netherlands and sometimes sold many times over the years without the buyers being aware of the origin of the artwork.

    The Nederlands Kunstbezit collection comprises approximately 4,700 art objects and consists of paintings (approx. 1,600), drawings, prints, ceramics, silverware, furniture, carpets and other special objects. This collection is what remains of the artworks recuperated from Germany after World War II and is managed by the State. The artworks are housed in various Dutch museums, at embassies and in government buildings. Parts of the NK collection can also be found in the Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE) depot. 

    Since January 2015 Bureau Herkomst Gezocht has initiated a new project. The aim of this project is to digitize the registration of circa 15.000 works of art that were acquired by the Germans in the Netherlands during the occupation and were not recovered by the allies in Germany after the Second World War. These objects of art are registered as missing on declaration forms and can be found in the archive of the Stichting Nederlandsch Kunstbezit (SNK). The SNK was assigned the task of recuperating artworks from abroad, primarily from Germany.

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    Origins Unknown is part of the Expert Centre Restitution of the NIOD Institute for War-, Holocaust- and Genocidestudies in Amsterdam.

    You can reach us by telephone or by e-mail:

    +31 - (0)70 - 371 7200 or
    +31 - (0)20 - 523 3800