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Discriminating Thieves

Discriminating Thieves: Nazi-Looted Art and Restitution

“The Germans have proven all along to be discriminating thieves.” — Paul Gardner, first Director of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 1943

Works of art have often been plundered as spoils of war. During World War II, Hitler and the Nazis looted art on an unprecedented scale, stealing thousands of objects across Europe. Jewish collectors were particularly affected by this looting due to Nazi laws that forbade Jews from owning property.

After the war, Allied forces found much of the looted art and returned it to the rightful owners. But other items disappeared in the chaos of war and remain lost to this day. In light of this fact, the Nelson-Atkins researches the ownership history of its artworks.

This research revealed that the works in this exhibition were looted by the Nazis during World War II, returned to their owners after the war, and subsequently acquired legally by the Nelson-Atkins.

The Independent

Discriminating Thieves: Nazi-Looted Art and Restitution is supported by The Neil D. Karbank Foundation.


All talks 6–7 pm in Atkins Auditorium

What Once was Lost: Nazi Art Looting and Allied Restitution
Thursday, January 31
Speaker: Mackenzie Mallon, Provenance Specialist at the Nelson-Atkins

The Monuments Men and Beyond: Saving Cultural Heritage in Today’s Conflicts
Thursday, March 7
Speaker: Corine Wegener, Art Historian and Director of the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative

Safe Haven: the Nelson-Atkins and the Protection of Art during World War II
Thursday, October 3
Speaker: Mackenzie Mallon, Provenance Specialist at the Nelson-Atkins

Film Series

All shown 1-3 pm in Atkins Auditorium

Hitler Versus Picasso
Saturday, March 16
2018 | NR | 96 mins.

The Rape of Europa
Saturday, March 23
2006 | NR | 117 mins.

Woman in Gold
Saturday, March 30
2015 | PG-13 | 109 mins.

Learn more about Nazi looting of art during World War II with our Discriminating Thieves: Nazi-Looted Art and Restitution Library Guide. Visit the Spencer Art Reference Library in the Bloch Building to browse a display of these titles and for more information.

The Curator is IN!
Friday, May 17 | 7-8 p.m.
Speaker: MacKenzie Mallon

Sunday: 10 AM - 5 PM
Monday: Closed
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: 10 AM - 5 PM
Thursday: 10 AM - 9 PM
Friday: 10 AM - 9 PM
Saturday: 10 AM - 5 PM

Location: Gallery P10