Loot in the Mauritshuis, The Hague
© Mauritshuis

Loot – 10 Stories

The Mauritshuis in The Hague is showing “Loot – 10 Stories”, an art project in which the stories of objects from three epochs are brought to life with virtual reality: Art looted by French revolutionaries in 1795, everyday objects taken from Jewish forced levies from 1939 onwards, and colonial looted art. The Stadtmuseum Berlin is represented by three loans: Silver objects formerly owned by Jews, a chest of drawers from the Reichsbank furniture collection and a horse’s head from the Quadriga of 1793.

Exhibition: 14.9.23 – 7.1.24

With the help of VR applications, visitors can track down 10 objects. The artist duo Jongsma + O’Neill uses video installations and digital techniques to show the influence of object histories on the present.

Loans from the Stadtmuseum Berlin

The exhibition is a joint project of the Mauritshuis and the Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin, the Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss with the Ethnological Museum and the Museum of Asian Art of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz.

The exhibition features three loans from the collection of the Stadtmuseum Berlin. They are all united by the story of unlawful seizure and the Stadtmuseum Berlin’s concern to clarify the provenance of the individual objects.

Fork, three-pronged, with decorated handle, 20.70 cm x 2.70 cm
© Stadtmuseum Berlin | Photo: Dorin Alexandru Ionita

The Märkisches Museum’s “Special Silver Inventory”

Nearly five hundred silver pieces, including spoons, charm bracelets, children’s rattles and other objects, are stored in a metal cabinet in the Stadtmuseum Berlin’s collection depot. The objects originate from compulsory levies placed on Jewish people from 1939 onwards. While these items cannot currently be traced back to their original owners, the silver holdings that Jews were forced to relinquish are a painful testament to the history of the millions who fell victim to the Holocaust. Since 1996, the Stadtmuseum Berlin has been researching the provenance of these silver objects, both to evaluate the museum’s own past with a critical eye and to make information available to the public.

The Anet chest of drawers from the so-called Reichsbank furniture stock

Because of its unconfirmed provenance and an initial suspicion of “unlawful seizure” such as expropriation or robbery during National Socialism, the Stadtmuseum Berlin has been conducting targeted research on the Anet commode since 2020. The thematic island in the exhibition provides an insight into the procedure of provenance research: the beginning of the search for traces on the furniture and in archival records, the piecing together of the historical facts on the history of the chest of drawers scattered across numerous locations and sources, and the reconstruction of its path across systemic breaks in the GDR and the Soviet Zone back to the time of the Second World War and German-occupied Paris (1940-1944).
Commode, ca. 1750. wood, mahogany, bronze, marble, 88 x 171 x 65 cm. The Anet chest of drawers belongs to the collection of Reichsbank furniture preserved by the Stadtmuseum Berlin.
© Stadtmuseum Berlin | Photo: Dorin Alexandru Ionita

Not every initially “suspicious” clue leads to a major art heist thriller, but the circumstances surrounding the sale of the chest of drawers to the Reichsbank in the Paris art trade as well as its whereabouts in the 1930s continue to be the subject of ongoing research in order to obtain the greatest possible certainty about ownership.

Gottfried Schadow (1764-1850): Horse’s head from the quadriga of the Brandenburg Gate, 1793. copper, 125 x 66 cm
© Stadtmuseum Berlin | Photo: Michael Setzpfandt

The Horse’s Head of the Quadriga from 1793

This horse’s head is all that remains of the Quadriga, the sculpture on the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. The Quadriga was badly damaged by bombing during the Second World War and dismantled on 1 May 1950. Most of the parts were melted down, only the head of the left horse was preserved. It ended up in the Märkisches Museum’s depot. Until December 2022, the horse’s head was shown in the permanent exhibition BerlinZEIT in the Märkisches Museum, which is currently closed for renovation. A replica of the Quadriga has stood on the Brandenburg Gate since 1958.

The Quadriga statue group, created by Johann Gottfried Schadow in 1793, had stood on the city gate for only 13 years when Dominique-Vivant Denon, Napoleon’s art inspector and director of the Musée Napoléon (today’s Louvre), brought it to France in 1806. After Napoleon’s surrender in 1814, the horses and the carriage returned to Berlin.

An in-depth text on the history of the remaining horse head of the 1793 quadriga follows.

2024 in Berlin

The Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin, the Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss, the Ethnological Museum and the Museum of Asian Art of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz are partners in this exhibition project.

The exhibition will come to the Humboldt Forum in Berlin in 2024.


Plein 29
2501 CM The Hague

In cooperation with