A delicate legacy: understanding Nazi-era provenance at The Corning Museum of Glass, New York

Maxwell, Christopher (2021) A delicate legacy: understanding Nazi-era provenance at The Corning Museum of Glass, New York. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.


The Corning Museum of Glass [CMoG], New York, was founded in 1951 on the ancestral land of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Over the subsequent decades, it grew to become the world’s most comprehensive collection of glass spanning more than 35 centuries of global glassmaking. Beginning with fewer than 1,000 objects, the institution’s collection database now contains in excess of 40,000 records. The majority of these relate to objects made before 1945 (i.e. the end of World War II), but details of their provenance is often incomplete.

Provenance research is currently undertaken on all new acquisitions with a mandatory search of the Art Loss Register. However, to date, no systematic research has been undertaken in the Museum’s own special collections and archives, housed in the Rakow Research Library, to ascertain how much Nazi-era provenance information can be extracted and collated from CMoG’s own records and library resources.

Using the archives, records and correspondence of specific private collectors who were active during the Nazi era, and whose collections are now at CMoG, along with auction catalogues held in the Rakow Research Library’s special collections, this thesis will endeavor to extract and consolidate the Nazi-era provenance of discrete groups of objects within the Museum’s collection of European glass roughly spanning the period 1200-1900. These parameters have primarily been determined by the area of curatorial responsibility held by the author and the feasibility of consulting the necessary papers and objects within the remit of this project.

The field of Nazi-era provenance research has evolved into a highly sophisticated discipline quite distinct from the histories of art and collecting. Consequently, the role of provenance researcher is widely recognized as beyond the professional remit of the museum curator. Drawing on the skill set of an art-historically trained curator, and with an emphasis on material literacy, the principal goal of this thesis is to present a cogent body of collections information that will demonstrate, not eliminate, the need for specialist Nazi-era provenance research in order to define, consider and respond to outstanding provenance issues as they pertain to CMoG’s collection of European glass, and to investigations into the Nazi-era provenance of glass elsewhere.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Nazi-era, provenance, glass, museums, collecting, restitution, loot.
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DD Germany
K Law > K Law (General)
N Fine Arts > NK Decorative arts Applied arts Decoration and ornament
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts > History of Art
Supervisor's Name: Roodt, Dr. Christa
Date of Award: 2021
Embargo Date: 22 May 2024
Depositing User: Dr Christopher L. Maxwell
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82207
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 24 May 2021 16:03
Last Modified: 24 May 2021 16:03
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82207
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/82207

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year