Provenance Research


Where do the objects in the collections of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz actually come from? How did they come to be here? And are they here legally? Questions of origin must be clarified beyond doubt, so provenance research is an important part of the SPK’s work.

One of the Foundation’s core tasks, beside preserving the many collections, large and small, that come within the remit of Prussian Cultural Heritage, is to carry out research into them. This always involves establishing the provenance of the objects themselves. Be they manuscripts in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, works of art in the Nationalgalerie, classical antiquities in the Pergamonmuseum, ethnographic pieces for the Humboldt Forum, or musical instruments in the SIM, their origin must be ascertained to the fullest extent possible.

This dossier tells you how the researchers reconstruct the biography of a cultural object, what kinds of challenge they face in doing so, and why their work is indispensible.