Provenance Research

The term provenance refers to the history of ownership of an artwork. The Denver Art Museum curatorial team conducts provenance research on an ongoing basis and posts results online as they become available.

Provenance research is an important aspect of curatorial work, but it is by nature time-consuming and challenging. Throughout the centuries documents and archives have been lost or destroyed, transfers of property may not have been recorded or mistakenly noted, buyers might have chosen anonymity and individual artworks may have been treated as part of a larger collection. These are only some of the reasons that make the endeavors of the researchers challenging and often unrewarding. A complete record, with transfers of ownership from the artist to the current repository, is rare and should be treated as the exception.

Despite these challenges, our commitment is to aim at filling every gap in our objects’ history and provide as much information as possible for a deeper understanding of our collections.

Read more about our provenance research efforts related to the World War II era and archaeological materials and ancient art.