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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Center for Art Collection Ethics

Ellingen Stash Photo Credits: Bowl, Pueblo of Zuni, New Mexico: Courtesy of University of Denver Museum of Anthropology

Center for Art Collection Ethics

Our Vision

While there are organizations in the United States that encourage provenance research and training, such as the Association of Art Museum Directors and the Smithsonian Institution, there is a continued lack of postgraduate training opportunities for art museum and trade professionals.

ACE will serve as a training center and clearinghouse of information on cultural property issues related to Holocaust-era art (in close cooperation with DU's Holocaust Awareness Institute), antiquities, and indigenous objects, particularly those impacted by the United States Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1990. Elizabeth Campbell, Associate Professor of History, serves as Director with an advisory group of faculty from the School of Art and Art History, the Museum of Anthropology, University Collections, and the Center for Judaic Studies.

In the short-term, ACE will host on-campus panel discussions and symposia, and provide provenance research training in annual summer clinics on the University of Denver campus. Longer-term, DU will become the premier academic center for provenance research training in the United States.

The need for this training will likely become more acute in the future, as the generation of collectors who acquired pieces in the postwar years is poised to bequeath assets to museums. Institutions in the U.S. also may face additional pressure to carry out this research as a result of the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act of 2016, which created a national statute of limitations for claiming Holocaust-era objects.

In alignment with DU IMPACT 2025, our vision for ACE is to provide problem- and issue-based research that builds knowledge bridges and fosters intellectual exchange, while also having a practical, tangible impact on professionals working in art museums and the art trade. Through on-campus lectures and panel discussions, we will welcome the broader Denver community to learn about legal and ethical dimensions of art restitution and stewardship issues, and help make the University of Denver an anchor institution in the Rocky Mountain region.

Photo Credits:
American soldier inspects German loot stored in a church at Ellingen, Germany, April 24, 1945. Courtesy of National Archives at College Park, MD.
Bowl, Pueblo of Zuni, New Mexico. Courtesy of University of Denver Museum of Anthropology.