New York museums are now required to say if artwork looted by Nazis

Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech

August 22, 2022

Originally published in The Hill on August 22, 2022.

Museums in New York state are now required to disclose if any of their artwork or artifacts were stolen in Europe by the Nazis.  

The change comes after Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed a legislative package aimed at honoring Holocaust survivors.  

Other bills in the package included legislation to help improve Holocaust education in schools and another piece ordering the New York State Department of Financial Services to publish a list of financial institutions that waive fees for Holocaust reparation payments.  

“As New Yorkers, we are united in our solemn commitment to Holocaust survivors: We will never forget,” Hochul said in a statement. “These are individuals who have endured unspeakable tragedy but nonetheless have persevered to build lives of meaning and purpose right here in New York. We owe it to them, their families, and the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust to honor their memories and ensure future generations understand the horrors of this era.”   

The new law requires that New York museums immediately place a placard or sign acknowledging Nazi-looted art. 

During World War II, the Nazis looted at least 600,000 works of art from Jews, about 100,000 of which are still considered missing. Some of that art is displayed in cultural centers around the world without any recognition or transparency on their origin.  

One museum with a trove of Nazi-looted artwork is the Louvre, with 1,700 pieces. The museum, though, is taking small steps to rectify this and set to return at least 15 pieces of the stolen art to their rightful owners.  

“With antisemitism on the rise, and Holocaust misinformation exploding around the world, it’s never been more important that we learn the lessons of the Holocaust, and ensure our next generation knows about our history, no matter how dark or difficult the conversation may be,” said New York state Sen. Anna Kaplan (D).