Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

General questions about Proveana and provenance research

Proveana is the German Lost Art Foundation’s database for provenance research. It presents the results of research projects funded by the Foundation. It also captures other research results and provides extensive information on literature, archived documents and digital offerings. Proveana is constantly expanding and offers a joint search with the Lost Art Database.

Detailed information about Proveana is available here.


Information on cultural goods confiscated as a result of Nazi persecution (Nazi-confiscated property) can be found here.

Information on cultural goods and collections from colonial contexts can be found here.



Information on the confiscation of cultural goods in the Soviet Occupation Zone and the GDR can be found here.

Information on cultural goods relocated as a result of war can be found here.

Information about the German Lost Art Foundation can be found at

Information about the Lost Art Database can be found at

Information about the Gurlitt Provenance Research project can be found here.

The word provenance comes from the Latin provenire and means “originate, arise”. Provenance research (also provenance investigation, history of ownership, origin research) examines the origin and different ownership circumstances of a cultural item. It is a sub-discipline of art history in particular, but is also carried out in other research fields. Provenance research is a core task of any institution that holds cultural objects.

The Washington Principles and the Common Statement underline the need for provenance research nationally and internationally, especially in the field of Nazi-confiscated property.

Questions about user administration

All users can create a user account for Proveana.  A user account allows you to create marked items lists and search lists and comment on information.  You need an e-mail account to create a user account.  Information on one-time required registration can be found here.

Users with a legitimate interest can request extended access.  Extended access allows you to read the research reports and other documents.  Information on extended access can be found here.

You need to register once.


You can change your account details in your user account. Log in using your user data. In your user account, you will see the “Edit profile” button at the top. If you click on this button, a form will be displayed. You can change your user data and password here. To enter the new information in the system, click on “Save”.

If you have forgotten the password for your user account, click on “Forgotten password” on the home page. You will be prompted to enter your e-mail address. Proveana will send you an e-mail containing a link. Click on the link and enter a new password. You will then be able to log in to your user account with this new password. 

You can delete your user account at any time. You must log in first and access your user account. Click on the “Edit profile” button to view your user data. You can delete your user account by clicking on the “Delete profile” button. You will receive an e-mail confirming that your user account has been permanently deleted.

Users with a legitimate interest can read the reports from the research projects funded by the German Lost Art Foundation. They can also search for information directly in the reports using the “Search” and “Advanced search” functions.

To register as a user with a legitimate interest, you must first have created a user account in Proveana. You can request extended access in your user account. You will be asked to provide your user data and a short explanation of your personal legitimate interest.

Documentation of the research project reports has to take into account the strict requirements of GDPR with regard to the publication of personal data. Therefore, for data protection reasons, access to the reports is restricted to users with a legitimate interest. People with this interest are, for example, victims of Nazi art theft, their descendants and their representatives, as well as academics working in the research areas funded by the Foundation. Decisions on legitimate interest are made on a case-by-case basis. All research project reports have undergone a detailed data protection check: personal data that is not absolutely essential and information that has been marked as confidential by the supported institutions have been blacked out.     

You will be informed whether you have been granted extended access usually within three working days. There is no right to admission as a user with a legitimate interest. 

Proveana is a completely new database developed by the German Lost Art Foundation and is not technically based on the “Modul Forschungsergebnisse”. For technical and data protection reasons, it is not possible to carry over your access details from the “Modul Forschungsergebnisse”. Please use new access details to register for a user account in Proveana.

If you are already registered in “Modul Forschungsergebnisse” as a user with a legitimate interest, please submit a new request for accreditation for extended access in Proveana. 

Questions about the information in Proveana

The information in Proveana is currently compiled from three major data sources: Firstly, information comes from the final reports of the research projects that have been funded by the German Lost Art Foundation since 2008. The final reports have been evaluated according to specific criteria and the relevant content has been assigned to eight data record types. Secondly, to create a fuller picture, some information has been extracted directly from primary and secondary sources. This content is constantly updated with new information.

Thirdly, the majority of objects recorded in Proveana come from search requests and found reports in the Lost Art Database operated by the German Lost Art Foundation.  In the search result, the hits in the Lost Art Database are clearly marked as such and can be accessed directly in the Lost Art Database.

In addition, the results of the provenance research projects on the Gurlitt art trove will be gradually incorporated into Proveana. The projects ran until December 31, 2017 as a follow-on to the Schwabing Art Trove Taskforce and researched the origins of the masterpieces that had been found at the homes of Cornelius Gurlitt since 2012.

You can always trace the origin of items of information using the verification symbol (quotation marks). When you open up this symbol, you can see the source of the information.

We are aiming to expand the sources of information.


You can always use our verification check to see where items of information come from and how up to date they are. There is a quotation mark symbol next to the information. When you click on this symbol and open it up, you can see what source the information comes from and when it was recorded.

You can view the status of information using the verification check (quotation mark symbol next to the information). The status categorizes the validity of the information. Most of the information in Proveana comes from research results, which means it is generally valid and reflects the current state of research. However, some information has not been definitively evidenced or cannot be conclusively proven for a variety of reasons. In such cases, the information is given the status “suspected”.   

If information is marked as “refuted” in Proveana, it means it is an assumption that was made based on older research which has now been clearly refuted by newer research. This label allows researchers to recognize a refuted assumption straight away and avoid unnecessary duplicate research.

Some hits in Proveana are categorized as “Persons and corporate bodies involved in Nazi art theft”. This shortened description comes from the Lost Art Database’s “Provenance Research” module. It covers all stakeholders and all persons or corporate bodies who were involved in seizures, confiscations and evaluations and in the so-called “purchasing” and “exchange” of cultural goods. The term does not solely refer to perpetrators but also includes the victims and persecuted individuals involved as well as neutral agents. 

We recommend the following citation format:

Proveana—provenance research database: name of data record, PURL, (accessed on XX/XX/20XX).

Should you wish to quote from the attached materials (e.g. research reports), please use an appropriate academic citation format.

The "Provenance Research" module, originally available at has been removed with the 2021 relaunch. The data it contains was generated in 2001, before the establishment of the German Lost Art Foundation, for the appendices to the Guidelines. These data sets are currently being revised to take into account the current state of research and will be available via Proveana – Database Provenance Research.

Questions about the comment function

Proveana is designed for expansion and interconnectivity.  If you like to contribute information to Proveana, please click on contact to get in touch with the Proveana team.  We will then discuss with you the options for communicating the information.  A basic rule of Proveana is that all information must be backed up by a source.  We require this fundamental rule of good scientific practice to be met for all information.  

You can also comment directly on the information in Proveana. You must be logged into your user account to do so. You can leave a comment at the end of each individual hit by using the text field at the bottom of the page. Here too, please provide a source for your information where possible. When you click on the “Comment” button, your comment is sent to the Proveana team. The team checks whether your comment complies with the terms of use and, if so, your comment is published. 


You have not found an answer to your question? Then please contact us personally.