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Press Release

The exhibition uses contemporary perspectives to shed light on the fate of artworks and artefacts amidst looting, removal and restitution. The spectrum of works ranges from an exploration of colonial looting and in some cases dubious collecting activities, state-organised art theft and expropriation in the Third Reich, to cultural genocide through the removal and destruction of cultural treasures.

Systematic art theft is a phenomenon familiar since ancient times. It is not only a strategy for transferring objects of value, but also a means of legitimising cultural dominance. Often, it is only the more spectacular cases, such as those involving a high monetary value, that attract public attention. The focus of this exhibition deliberately concentrates on the immaterial value of objects, the memories, history and stories that have been inscribed in them: the dignity of the object and the societies that have lost these objects that shape their identity.

The artists featured in the exhibition provide inspiration for new strategies on how museums and collections can deal with this burdened heritage in order that they might ful l their responsibility between restitution and the preservation of our cultural heritage.

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