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Exhibition January 26, 2019 − January 26, 2020

Discriminatory thieves: Nazi art and restitution

"The Germans from the very beginning argued that they were discriminating thieves," - Paul Gardner, first director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 1943

Works of art were often looted as war trophies. During World War II, Hitler and the Nazis plundered art on an unprecedented scale, stealing thousands of items across Europe. Jewish collectors were particularly affected by this robbery due to Nazi laws, which prohibited Jews from owning property.

After the war, the Allied forces discovered most of the plundered art and returned it to its rightful owners. But other objects disappeared in the chaos of war and remain lost to this day. In light of this fact, Nelson-Atkins explores the history of owning his works of art.

This study showed that the work presented at the exhibition "Discriminatory thieves: Nazi art and restitution", were looted by the Nazis during World War II, returned to their owners after the war, and subsequently legally acquired by Nelson-Atkins.