The federal law of December 4th 1998 (BGB1. I, 181/1998) on the restitution of objects of art was enacted with the aim of restoring art objects of Austrian federal museums and collections, which passed into the ownership of the state during or as a consequence of the National Socialist tyranny, to their former owners or their legal successors. For this purpose the responsible ministry (today the Federal Ministry of Education, Art and Culture) established the Commission for Provenance Research; its research associates search inventories, archive collections and objects in the various federal museums and collections for indications of provenance.
On the initiative of the director of the archive at the time, in-house provenance research was carried out in the Kunsthistorisches Museum already before the legislative decree. In June 1998 HR Haupt, assisted by Dr. Lydia Gröbl, submitted a thorough statement on the „Changes in the inventory collections of the Kunsthistorisches Museum during the Nazi period and in the years preceding the treaty of 1955”.
The report focuses on the sources handed down in the archive between 1938 and 1955 and, together with some further investigations, serves as a basis for subsequent provenance research.
Since April 1st 2009 Dr. Susanne Hehenberger and Dr. Monika Löscher act as provenance researchers by order of the Commission for Provenance Research in the Kunsthistorisches Museum. They are responsible for extending the investigation period from 1933 until the recent past and incorporating hitherto neglected or insufficiently investigated collections of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in provenance research.