The case of Polish museums holding cultural objects "in trust" after WWII

Julia Stepnowska , Kamil Zeidler


During WWII, cultural objects were in constant danger of being looted or destroyed. One of the most common solutions for securing goods was to transfer them to museums that would then hold them “in trust.” Nowadays, cultural property restitution includes the case when heirs turn to museums to restore their heritage – however, in the case of pre-war ownership, the issue becomes inevitably ambiguous. In the case of state collections, objects at public display begin to constitute a common cultural good in time. The case of restitution when a national cultural heritage item is involved seems to touch upon not only the issue of rightful ownership but also the case of common cultural identity – it is therefore much more complex. In the case of post-war Poland, many restitution cases fall within that category, either directly or indirectly. Museums tend to base their arguments on the fact that their collections have somewhat gained the status of a common good, therefore need to be held at public display. Museum workers, as very few other people, had the possibility to secure a good in the given period. However, the difficulty to track the provenance of property looted or directly transferred to museums during, before, and after the war provides an additional context to be discussed. The following paper aims at researching the rights of both parties and presents case studies reflecting the perspectives in question.
Author Julia Stepnowska (FLA)
Julia Stepnowska,,
- Faculty of Law and Administration
, Kamil Zeidler (FLA / DTPLS)
Kamil Zeidler,,
- Department of Theory and Philosophy of Law and State
Publication size in sheets0.33
Book Kaiser Oliwia, Köstner-Pemsel Christina, Stumpf Markus (eds.): Treuhänderische Übernahme und Verwahrung: International und interdisziplinär betrachtet , Bibliothek im Kontext , no. 3, 2018, V&R unipress, ISBN 978-3-8471-0783-5, [978-3-7370-0783-2], 349 p., DOI:10.14220/9783737007832
Keywords in Englishcultural heritage, cultural property, museums, provenance, WWII
Languageen angielski
LicenseOther; published final; Uznanie Autorstwa - Użycie Niekomercyjne - Bez utworów zależnych (CC-BY-NC-ND); with publication
Score (nominal)0
ScoreMinisterial score = 0.0, BookChapterNotSeriesMainLanguages - za mała objętość w arkuszach wydawniczych: 0.33
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