Just before the latest group of Gurlitt works was revealed yesterday, Germany’s Culture Minister, Monika Grutters, told the Wall Street Journal that she was proposing a central provenance research center to scrutinize Germany’s museums for looted works:
The various institutions that share responsibility for art restitution had been “a bit shy in their public relations activities,” she said, speaking from her office in Angela Merkel’s chancellery, overlooking Berlin’s government district.
“These are delicate matters to articulate,” she said. Many German museums had underestimated “the emotional components” of the debate, she said. “It’s a matter of earning back trust.” […]
Ms. Grütters’s proposed provenance research center, the exact blueprint for which is being completed in talks with Germany’s 16 state governments, would operate at arm’s length from German museums and from the government, she said Monday, in her first interview with an international newspaper since taking office in December.
Her proposal would address what art experts and historians have long seen as a weakness in Germany’s restitution policies: The absence of an independent organization with the money and authority to conduct research into museum holdings.