Meet Gerdien Verschoor

Interview with Gerdien Verschoor, member of the supervisory committee for provenance research and author

Foto van Gerdien Verschoor met blauw pak aan
Image: Ruben Schipper
Gerdien Verschoor

"World War II and the Holocaust were dominant factors in my life when I was living in Poland. I lived in a new housing estate, located at the centre of the former Jewish Ghetto. I was very aware of the history of that place, even though there were few traces back then to remind you of what had once stood there. Two of my books touch on traumas from World War II, when three million Polish Jews were murdered in the death camps, six of which – including Auschwitz, Sobibor and Treblinka – were built by the Nazis on Polish soil. In the 1990s, there was a coming out of Jewish life in Warsaw, with new magazines and organisations, and local and national initiatives to commemorate the past emerged."

"Works of art often play a major role in people's personal lives. A painting, a drawing or an antique cabinet is sometimes all that remains of a family or a family history. We have a duty to ensure that those objects are brought back and returned to the descendants of the individuals who once treasured them. As a member of the Committee on Museum Acquisitions and later the Restitutions Committee, I tried to promote that as much as possible.

It is important that provenance research into the NK collection is intensified. There are so many new sources and research methods available to us now which we could utilise to make up much lost ground. I consider it an honour to have the opportunity to contribute to this, provide advice and act as a sounding board for the researchers. It is inspiring to see how well-informed the new, young researchers and their more experienced colleagues are and I admire the tenacity with which they approach their work. Thanks to them, we have entered a new phase of researching the NK collection."


Gerdien Verschoor (1963) is an art historian and author. She studied art history in Leiden and Kraków, and in 1998 was awarded her PhD from the Academy of Sciences in Warsaw for a thesis that focused on a group of Polish painters in the interwar period ('Kapiści'). She served as cultural attaché to the Dutch Embassy in Warsaw, was director of CODART, the international network for curators of art from the Low Countries, and executive director of Camp Westerbork Memorial Centre. She writes novels, short stories, literary non-fiction and essays. She also works as an author and consultant on behalf of museums and other civil society organisations.

Supervisory committee for provenance research

There is an independent committee which oversees the provenance research. This committee monitors the quality of past and future research and assesses whether it meets the standard required in order to determine the provenance of objects from the NK collection as accurately as possible. The committee checks whether the right steps are being taken and the right archives are consulted during the research. 

The committee consists of  Prof. Dr Rudi Ekkart (chair),  Henrike Hövelmann MA, Dr Christiaan Ruppert and Dr Gerdien Verschoor.