BOSTON: Buckling under a tidal wave of unfavorable PR, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston announced that it will publish a list of 12 to 15 European paintings whose origins have raised the possibility that they were plundered by Nazis.
BOSTON: Buckling under a tidal wave of unfavorable PR, the Museum
of Fine Arts in Boston announced that it will publish a list of 12 to 15
European paintings whose origins have raised the possibility that they
were plundered by Nazis.
The MFA’s decision to release the list of paintings on its Web site was
prompted largely by The Boston Herald, which approached the museum with
21 European works that it believed had ties to Nazi art dealers or gaps
in their provenance between 1933 and 1945.
The MFA initially denied that it had any Nazi-looted artwork and refused
to acknowledge the charges. ’Responding to this type of inquiry would be
irresponsible,’ the museum spokeswoman said at the time.
But criticism from both Jewish leaders and the Herald seems to have
driven the MFA to disclosure. World Jewish Congress executive director
Elan Steinberg publicly criticized the MFA for not conducting its
research in a ’transparent’ manner.
’The issue is not whether the research takes a long time, but why it’s
not being released as it’s ongoing,’ he said.
The MFA, in an about-face from its initial denial, said in the
announcement that it had been reviewing the provenance of its European
paintings since 1998, when the 165 member museums that make up the
Association of Art Museum Directors pledged to review their collections
for potentially looted artwork. Despite the absence of communications
guidelines, several leading museums that Steinberg targeted, including
the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago, have
publicly communicated their provenance findings.
Steinberg plans on continuing his research and will alert the news media
to 200 American museums that he believes have failed to fulfill the 1998
’The best PR is good public conduct,’ he said. ’The public should not
have to go through this exercise in ’gotcha!’ ’