The Louvre is displaying Nazi-seized artwork to try and find the original owners

The Louvre Museum in Paris has dedicated a special permanent exhibit to French-owned works of art recovered from Germany. The Nazis had seized the pieces during their occupation of France.

These 31 paintings join the more than 1,700 recovered paintings already on the walls at the world-famous museum, but their display has a deeper purpose: To hopefully reunite the works of art with the descendants of their rightful owners.

The paintings and other artworks are kept track of in theĀ National Recovery Museum’s catalog. A statement from the Louvre outlines the plan for these deeply significant historical pieces.

“Currently, a work group established by the Culture Ministry, and working in collaboration with the Commission for the compensation of the victims of looting, founded in 1999, is in charge of tracing the origins of these works, in order to determine those that have been looted, and those that have not.

“In the case of looted goods, the group is equally committed to identify the owner at the moment of the theft, to allow the pieces to be returned to the rightful owners. In the paintings collection, more than 50 pieces have been returned to the owners in this way since 1951.”

During the Nazi occupation of France during World War II, about 100,000 items, including artwork, were seized by German forces. From 1944 to 1949, the French Commission for Artistic Recovery oversaw the return of more than 60,000 items to France, more than 45,000 of which were claimed by the families of the original owners.

The exhibit was put together during the refurbishment of the museum’s French and Northern paintings rooms, and is located on the second floor of the Richelieu wing.