Organizations tasked with restitutions policy

Ministry of Education, Culture and Science

The minister of Education, Culture and Science is responsible for the Dutch restitution policy and its funds. The minister provides access to the services of the Centre of Expertise and the Restitutions Committee at no cost, even if the request for restitution concerns an artwork that is not part of the National Art Collection.

If the work is part of the National Art Collection, the minister also bears the costs for a civil-law notary and for transportation in the event of restitution. If the work is in another collection, the applicant and the present possessor are responsible for arranging and for the costs of a civil-law notary and/or transporter.

Further information about policy recommendations and the government’s position can be found on the website of the Government of the Netherlands.

Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands

The Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands handles restitution requests on behalf of the minister of Education, Culture and Science. To qualify, the request must relate to cultural goods that were looted, confiscated or sold under duress during the Nazi regime.

Where this concerns restitution of objects that are part of the National Art Collection, the Agency always seeks advice from the Restitutions Committee on the minister’s behalf – possibly after a a  factual report by the Centre of Expertise – unless it is evident that the request does not fall under the restitution policy.

Restitutions Committee

The Advisory Committee on the Assessment of Restitution Applications for Items of Cultural Value and the Second World War, known as the Restitutions Committee, is an independent body that advises in restitution cases at the request of the minister of Education, Culture and Science. It formulates its recommendations in keeping with the standards of justness and fairness.

Before issuing a recommendation, the Committee may ask the Centre of Expertise to carry out an factual report.

Centre of Expertise

The Centre of Expertise for the Restitution of Cultural Goods and the Second World War, or Centre of Expertise, was established in 2018 to consolidate the expertise of researchers within the Origins Unknown Agency, the Restitutions Committee and the Museums Association.

The Centre of Expertise conducts historical and art historical research directed at achieving just and fair solutions based on, as accurate as possible, a representation of the historical facts.

The Centre of Expertise considers all issues that may be significant in order to arrive at a just and fair solution. It also monitors the proportionality and efficacy of the research to ensure it is directed at discovering facts that are pertinent for achieving a just and fair solution, and that the effort required to discover specific facts is in proportion to their significance.

Issues that are raised in almost every investigation are:

  • the ownership of the work of which possession was lost and identification of that work as the object of the present  request for restitution
  • the circumstances surrounding the loss of possession
  • the question whether settlement or compensation has previously taken place in a given case.

The investigation also looks into circumstances surrounding the acquisition by the present possessor.

Information that is provided or that comes to light in the course of the investigation may occasion research into other issues as well or limit the research to one or several issues only.

The Centre of Expertise makes no statements as regards the group of rights holders.

In addition to research activities, the Centre of Expertise also supplies information and serves as the national centre for applicants, present possessors and owners, museums, the press, researchers and other interested parties.