With the signing of the Washington Principles on Nazi-confiscated Art in 1998, the Federal Republic of Germany undertook to examine state and municipal ownership of museum and archive property for Nazi-related seizure. In the event of restitution, just and fair solutions are to be found on the basis of the eleven Principles. Since then, provenance research has developed into a scientific discipline in its own right. It investigates the origin of an object, i.e. all owners, storage locations and the periods of time during which the object was in the possession of a person or entity. In Hesse, the Zentrale Stelle für Provenienzforschung Hessen was founded in 2015 and is affiliated with the Museum Wiesbaden. Its remit includes the Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt, Hessen Kassel Heritage, the Museum Wiesbaden and the Administration of the State Palaces and Gardens Bad Homburg. Characteristic of these collections is their wide range of objects: paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, applied art, photographs, archaeological finds and much more.
All objects acquired after 1932 and created before 1945 are to be examined. New acqusitions for the collections will also be examined. Based on the provenance features on the object, such as inscriptions, seals or labels, research continues for information on archival documents (manuscripts, photos), auction catalogs and specialist literature. Taken together, this information shapes an individual object biography that should be as complete as possible.
At the Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt, the focus of provenance research is currently on the painting collection and the prints and drawings collection. In an special research project, part of the collection of the former WELLA company museum is currently being examined. These are basically prints and illustrated books relating to the hairdressing and wig-making trades.