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German Lost Art Foundation at the UNESCO

Updated: Jun 7




Sarah Fründt was invited to give a speech in the halls of the Helene-Lange-Schule, the venue of this year's UNESCO. She informed the delegates about what her job at the German Lost Art Foundation entails and what the institution stands for.

The German Center for Cultural Property Losses deals with cultural assets that were once stolen from their owners—during the Nazi era, the colonial period, or in the Soviet Occupation Zone and the GDR—as well as with cultural property losses during the Second World War. To clarify whether objects were unlawfully taken away, the Center promotes provenance research.

Sarah Fründt went on to highlight the criteria for potential applicants to the Foundation's program. Fründt emphasized that the program does not cater to profit-driven associations or private individuals. Instead, it is specifically designed for institutions involved in collecting or storing objects originating from colonial contexts. This focus aims to support the proper handling, research, and potential restitution of artifacts with colonial histories, ensuring that the program's resources are utilized by organizations committed to preserving and understanding cultural heritage. Such projects have various time ranges. While long-term projects can take up to two years, short-term projects only last up to six months.

Fründt added that most of the internal partners of the German Lost Art Foundation are located in regions that were once German colonies. This partnership structure underscores the Foundation's commitment to addressing the complex legacies of colonialism by collaborating directly with communities and institutions in formerly colonized areas.


Shortly after that, the floor was opened for follow-up questions concerning Sarah Fründt's speech. For instance, the question was raised about how COVID-19 affected her work. She acknowledged that the pandemic had a negative effect due to many applicants seeking funds for travel, which was no longer possible. However, she noted a positive aspect as well: the pandemic prompted a digital push, enabling the Foundation to maintain more frequent contact with participants, rather than the usual one or two interactions. This increased digital engagement allowed for enhanced collaboration and support throughout the pandemic.

In conclusion, Sarah Fründt's presentation on the German Lost Art Foundation was highly engaging, shedding light on the organization's pivotal role in handling collections from colonial contexts. The presentation sparked considerable interest, evidenced by the numerous questions from delegates eager to delve deeper into the Foundation's work and future initiatives.



By Hanna Baalmann, Mattes Buchholz, Julian Cassellius

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