Research Projects and Resources :

July 2022: Böhler research database of the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte (ZI) Munich

Unique sources from the Julius Böhler art dealership from 1903 to 1948 are now accessible online

Böhler re:search is a digital edition of the archive of the art dealer Julius Böhler. The database provides information on the approx. 18,300 works of art traded at Böhler between 1903 and 1948 and on the almost 9,900 people involved in the transactions - online and free of charge. Since the Böhler art dealership was also active during the National Socialist era, this source material is of outstanding importance for the search for cultural assets confiscated as a result of Nazi persecution.

In 2015, with the support of the German Research Foundation, the ZI acquired the approx. 30,000 property index cards from the art dealer Julius Böhler, around 8,000 photo folders and around 3,800 cards from the company's customer files. In addition to information on the traded objects, the index cards contain the names of the previous and subsequent owners, purchase and sale prices, information on expert reports or previous provenances. They not only provide background information on the actors, networks and trading practices of the art market in the 20th century, but also evidence of the historical ownership of the art and cultural assets traded.

Since 2017, the material, financed by the Ernst von Siemens Art Foundation, has been examined as part of a research project at the ZI and since 2019 it has been indexed with funds from the German Lost Art Foundation in a database based on the open-source system WissKI (scientific communication infrastructure). In addition to the digitized index cards and photo folders up to 1948, Böhler re:search contains the transcribed, standardized and linked information on objects, actors and transactions.

With the activation of the approx. 5 million data records, it will be possible for institutions preserving cultural assets, the art trade and collectors, but also descendants of persecuted and expropriated collectors worldwide to independently research the ownership of the objects traded by Böhler in their historical context, to reconstruct collections and to clarify provenances.

The art dealer Julius Böhler in Munich dealt in goods of outstanding quality since 1880. In the first half of the 20th century in particular, the company, which was then active in Munich, New York, Lucerne and Berlin, was one of the most important art dealers in the German-speaking world with an international reputation. Even then, its customers included international museums, collectors, art dealers and antique shops.

The currently available beta version of the database may still contain some display errors, which will be corrected in the coming weeks. For reasons of transparency, the activation will take place during the project period.

Access to the database:

To the project page:

The project team provides insight into ongoing research at irregular intervals on the ZI Spotlight blog:


Source: accessed 22 July 2022