During the Second World War, tens of thousands of items of cultural value from the Netherlands ended up in Germany. Some were sold, more or less forcibly, but others were simply stolen, looted or confiscated. A proportion of these works were returned to the Netherlands after the war and became part of the national art collection.
Up until the 1950s, many works were returned to their rightful owners. After that, some of the remainder were sold. Those left in state hands became known as the NK Collection, after Nederlands Kunstbezit (Netherlands Art Property), a foundation established in 1945. This collection consists of paintings, works on paper and works of applied art, such as furniture and ceramics.
In this portal you will find information about the characteristics, restitution status and provenance of the works in the NK Collection, past and present. That is, both items still held by the Dutch state and those already returned to their rightful owner(s). The information provided here comes from the databases of the Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE), the Restitutions Committee and the former Origins Unknown Agency, whose data is now managed by the Expertisecentrum Restitutie Cultuurgoederen en Expert Centre Restitution at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies. From 1998 onwards, extensive research was carried out with the aim of restituting the items in the NK Collection to the original owners or their heirs. That work was carried out by the Origins Unknown Agency. The Restitutions Committee advises on requests for restitution of items held in the Netherlands, including those in the NK Collection.
All information in this portal is freely searchable. For example, it is possible to search by the name of an original owner or a collector. You can also filter by items’ key characteristics, such as the maker or the materials used. Or by specific advices issued by the Restitutions Committee, so that all items related to a recommendation can be viewed.
This portal will be updated and expanded continually in the coming years. From 2022 onwards, systematic provenance research into the NK Collection will resume and the findings will be added to this portal on a regular basis. Where necessary, images of items will also be provided or improved. In addition, we intend to link to other relevant data. All information will be available in English as well as Dutch.
It is possible that not all data currently shown is correct. If you notice any incorrect data, you can report this here. We would also be glad to hear from you if you know more about an item or have any questions about it. No rights may be derived from the information shown.