Provenance research is investigations into the origins (provenance) of cultural artefacts in museums, archives, libraries, art galleries and antiques shops. It is a relatively new discipline within the humanities. Its goal is to compile a complete ownership record of every item in the collections of an institution. As an ancillary benefit, such research into former ownership circumstances serves to confirm the authenticity of cultural objects and can add to the value of a collection.
The National Socialist period, during which art, cultural goods and ritual items were unlawfully confiscated from Jewish communities and individuals, presents a particular challenge for provenance research. The National Socialists impounded Judaica all over Europe and transported it back to the German Reich. Many of these items have not been restored to the heirs of their rightful owners to this day.
Starting in 2021, the Jewish Museum Augsburg Swabia will be examining its collections for unclear or incomplete provenances and working to return any confiscated Jewish property to its rightful owners in accordance with the Washington Principles. The Jewish Museum considers it a moral duty to share the results of its provenance research with the public and thereby contribute to the transparency of knowledge about National Socialist injustices.