OU Undergraduate Student Congress requests more research on potentially looted art

The Oklahoma Daily 28 October 2015
By Brianna Sims

T he OU Undergraduate Student Congress voted to request more research be instated to find fraudulent or stolen paintings from the Nazi era of 1932-1946.

On Oct. 27, the Congress met to consider multiple bills, one of which proposes  further and more in-depth research be enacted by the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. This research is called provenance research. 

"Provenance research, which is the history of an artwork’s ownership, is an important part of work completed by modern museums," according to the piece of legislation presented by Ryan Echols, a Fine Arts District Committee representative. 

The purpose of this article would be to make sure the museum is conducting the necessary research they need to do, Echols said. 

Eric Sundby, the president of the Holocaust Remembrance and Restitution Society at OU, attended the meeting and presented the bill to Congress alongside Echols. They provided information to the plethora of questions brought to the floor. 

If the artwork is found to be from the Nazi era, the artworks will be given back to the original artists or reinstated to the prior location, Sundby said.

Sundby has many connections to the Holocaust, one of which being that he's had family members pass away from the tragedies people faced during this time. 

Forty paintings at the museum are listed on the Nazi-Era Provenance Internet Portal, a registry that tracks paintings that changed hands in continental Europe during the Nazi era. Some of the museum's works have been also questioned of being in the arms of a Schutzstaffel member at some point in time, being stolen from German citizens and sometimes burnt due to their affiliations. Sundby said that some of these antiquities can never be replaced. 

The bill passed through Congress and will be seen by the Graduate Student Senate on Nov. 8.

Congress also saw legislation asking to make election days holidays and establishing the polling sites for said elections. These sites will be located at the Bookmark Cafe in the Oklahoma Memorial Union by the front entrance and in the Cate Center Rock Garden.

Congress also heard legislation that would keep OU a gun-free environment, reiterating OU President David Boren's assertion that guns on campus do more harm than good. However, this proposition was tabled due to proposed amendments and confusion as to why the bill was needed, as similar legislation passed in 2014. Congress will see this proposition again in two weeks.
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