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In addition to its core missions of collecting, preserving, communicating, and exhibiting, research is central to the museum’s work. Our interdisciplinary collections at the intersection of art and literature, history and politics offer a wide range of approaches and questions for scholarly research.

We view museum research as a never-ending process that constantly yields new insights. In addition to researching the biographies of the largely unknown artists in our collection, a core element of our work is the visualization of networks of persecuted modernism between literature, the visual arts, and theater, as well as artistic strategies for coming to terms with this experience. In this context, we consider art-technology and art-historical research as complementary perspectives.

To this end, we collaborate nationally and internationally with colleges and universities, related museums, memorials, and archives. We also rely on you for research on artists in our collection and works of art that are believed to be lost or destroyed. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have information about an artist or individual works of art.

Art-technological examinations

The Center for Persecuted Arts is dedicated to the art-technological research of selected works of art within the framework of individual projects. The study of this important collection of persecuted art raises questions that are also relevant to international art studies. The aspect of persecution is not only evident in the biographies of the artists, but also in the materiality and production of the works of art. In addition to the genesis of the works, it is important to determine which aging phenomena and damage, for example, can be attributed to the attempt to deliberately destroy the cultural asset, and to what extent these traces should be preserved.

To answer these questions, various methods of art-technological research are available. The research involves the analysis of samples through microscopic and chemical examinations, as well as imaging techniques such as X-ray and infrared reflectance spectroscopy, to obtain information about the production and condition of the work of art. The information gathered leads to a comprehensive understanding of the materials and techniques used to produce the particular work of art created under the difficult conditions of National Socialism. The knowledge gained in this way helps to place the works in the context of the period in which they were created and to preserve the memory of the persecution of the artists and the significance of their art in our history up to the present day.

The art-technological examinations are carried out at the Cologne Institute of Conservation Sciences (CICS) of the Cologne University of Applied Sciences. Cooperation with universities and colleges makes it possible to scientifically process and publish individual works of art as well as entire groups of works or estates. Here, too, the Center for Persecuted Arts welcomes interested students and researchers who wish to contribute to the study of persecuted art.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are interested in doing research on persecuted art for your thesis or dissertation, and we will be happy to help you find a suitable topic for your bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral thesis. Please contact: Marielena Buonaiuto ( and Hanna Sauer (

Museum and University

Our research is closely linked to university teaching and collaboration. In cooperation with the Department of History, the Institute for Migration Research, and the Master’s Program in Art and Communication at the University of Osnabrück, regular courses on the contents of our collection have been taking place for several years.

Exemplary courses include “Holocaust Art, ‘Degenerate Art,’ or How the Defamation by the National Socialists Lives on to This Day,” “The Immortality of Stars—The Change in Values in Assessing the Art of Goya and Ringelnatz,” “Exile Archive—Strategies for Documenting the Flight and Exile of Artists in the 20th and 21st Centuries“, and the seminar “Art and Communication in Practice.”

In 2020, the innovative program “Research Traineeships at Art Museums in NRW” initiated a funding line of the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia that explicitly supports museums in the areas of collecting, research, and mediation. The research internships create a specific training program in the development and research of museum collections. The museum training is accompanied by a scholarly program under the direction of Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ulli Seegers at the Institute of Art History of the Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf. More information on the funding line can be found here:

In the first funding phase 2020–2022, we were able to establish the Oscar Zügel Research Trainee Program for the initial inventory of the artist’s estate and the realization of an exhibition on the topic. In the second funding phase 2022–2024, the focus on collection research is being expanded to include education and outreach with a focus on participation, diversity, and inclusion. Both topics will be addressed through two research traineeships at the Center for Persecuted Arts. In exchange with their 27 colleagues from 26 funded museums, Vanessa Arndt (Collection Research) and Judith Steinig-Lange (Education and Outreach) are researching independent projects at the Center for Persecuted Arts alongside their museum training:

Forschungsvolontariat zur Fortsetzung der Erschließung des Oscar-Zügel-Nachlasses: Zeugnisse der Migration und des Exils

While the focus of the first funding period was on the processing of the artistic estate, the extensive documentary estate is now being processed. This work will serve as a basis for further research into the artist’s life and work. The goal of the traineeship is to create an archive that will be made available to the public for this research. Central areas of research include the persecution of artists in Germany during the years 1933–45, artists in exile, the provenance of works, and German postwar narratives.

Research traineeship “Plural Perspectives of Memory in the Context of the Arts”

The traineeship explores the diversity of cultural expressions and the possibilities of negotiating socio-political issues within the collection in relation to our present. Based on our specific collection at the Center for Persecuted Arts, diversity will be questioned with regard to its intersectionality and synergies and critically applied to determine the extent to which categorical parameters are suitable and which methods of developing diversity can be developed and tested for museums in North Rhine-Westphalia. Subsequently, previously underrepresented perspectives will be invited, communicated and made visible. In the first phase, a multidirectional politics of remembrance will be applied to the exhibition Solingen ’93 and the local culture of remembrance will be explored using the example of the commemoration of the racist attack on the Genç family. Based on this, a code of ethics will be developed within the framework of the research traineeship.

Further Information