"Heirless" Jewish cultural Property Post-Holocaust: the case of two museums


  • 5.30pm

  • Online

Despite the extensive research over the past twenty years on Holocaust related restitution, little is known about the disposal process of ‘heirless’ Jewish cultural property at Central Collecting Points (CCPs) in Germany. This talk follows the involvement of two institutions in this process: the Bezalel Museum in Jerusalem and the Jewish Museum in New York. In the early 1950s, both museums were used as repositories for a large number of the items shipped from Germany by the staff of the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction (JCR) that was responsible for the allocation of ‘heirless’ Jewish property.

Dr Shir Kochavi is Assistant Curator, The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, University of California, Berkeley. An art historian with extensive expertise in provenance research and the history of collecting, Shir has regularly worked and volunteered as a researcher in art institutions for over a decade. Her professional experience includes assistant positions in contemporary art and antiques galleries in Israel and in the UK, and at Christie's Auction House. She worked as a provenance researcher at the Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims' Assets in Israel, where she cooperated with numerous museums and archives located all over the world. Since moving to the Bay Area, Shir took on a researcher position at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, worked as a Cultural Arts Director at the Addison Penzak Jewish Community Center and has been giving numerous lectures.  In 2017, Shir received her PhD from the University of Leeds, UK, where she wrote her dissertation “Salvage to Restitution: "Heirless" Jewish cultural property in Post-World War II”. She holds a MA in The History of Business of Art and Collecting, from the Institut d’Etudes Superieures des Arts, Paris (2008) and a second MA in Law Studies from the Bar Ilan University, Israel (2012).