German-American Provenance Research Exchange Program (PREP) for Museum Professionals, 2017–2019

The German/American exchange program PREP was set up jointly by the SPK and the Smithsonian Institution. Its purpose was to create a strategic network of provenance researchers in museums in both countries.

The Provenance Research Exchange Program for Museum Professionals (PREP) was run from 2017–2019 by the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz / Staatliche Museen zu Berlin together with its American partners (the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) as well as its German partners (the Central Institute for Art History, Munich, the Dresden State Art Collections, and the German Lost Art Foundation, Magdeburg) in a consulting capacity. 

Experts from both countries working in a range of museum professions came together for a program of six exchange workshops with the primary aim of reducing obstacles to cooperation and promoting the mutual exchange of information and experience. Scholars/curators, provenance researchers, archivists, lawyers, and specialists in the digital humanities, alongside doctoral students and interns, contributed to the development of a lively network with close personal contacts.

In the course of the six meetings, a total of 76 participants from 44 different institutions discussed various specialized topics relating to art looted under the Nazis. As well as presenting the results of their research, they considered how the knowledge thus gained could be communicated more effectively to museum visitors and other interested members of the public. Another focus of discussion concerned the identification of relevant (archival) resources in both countries and the application of modern technology to their research. Similarly forward-looking was the exchange of views on the organizational, legal and cultural frameworks within which provenance research takes place at museums in the United States and Germany. 

The results of the workshops and what they achieved have been made available in comprehensive on-line documentation and video recordings of the public events. 

PREP was funded by public grants: the greater part of these funds came from the ERP Special Fund of the German Program for Transatlantic Encounters; a further substantial part came from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.

Links for Additional Information

Project Partners of the SPK

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