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Systematic research for historical classification

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On the history of works of art and cultural objects - Museum Wiesbaden (Part 3)

For the collections of the Hessian State Museums - Darmstadt, Kassel and Wiesbaden - there are still many object biographies to be traced. The three museums are of course working closely together on this. Ulrike Schmiegelt-Rietig explains why provenance research also has positive side effects for the collections: "The more that is known about the art objects’ backgrounds, the easier it is to classify them historically, to draw conclusions about the artists themselves and to establish other contexts. The research team is in close contact with international experts and in particular the Provenance Research Working Committee.

An exciting task, as Schmiegelt-Rietig asserts while sifting through old correspondence in the Darmstadt archive. "There is much between the lines. The work requires knowledge of historical contexts, the personalities of the time and their networks. Only with this can the right conclusions be drawn." And so the work consists of meticulous research, most of it singled out by hand from books, lists and index cards. The research team uses all archives for their research and exchanges information with experts, for example in the Darmstadt Museum with the head curator Dr Klaus-Dieter Pohl (shown here in front of the painting Spaziergang auf der Brücke by August Macke). Pohl sees provenance research as part of the academic work that amongst other things, is of great importance for the museums' inventory catalogues. "Thanks to systematic research, we’re able to fill in a lot of gaps.”

Previous article in the series:
On the history of works of art and cultural objects - Museum Wiesbaden (Part 2)

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Published on 23.03.2018

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