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Procedure for the Dutch National Art Collection


The Restitutions Committee only advises in the case of objects from the Dutch National Art Collection at the request of the Minister of Education, Culture and Science (OCW). The Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE) deals with restitution applications on behalf of the Minister of OCW.

See the Dutch National Art Collection restitution application step-by-step plan for submitting a restitution application.

The procedure followed by the Committee is described in the Regulations. It can be outlined as follows:

Reception Phase

The Restitutions Committee notifies the restitution applicant and the RCE in writing of the receipt of the request for advice from the RCE. The Restitutions Committee will check whether it is clear on whose behalf the applicant is acting and what the applicant’s connection is to the original owner of the item of cultural value concerned. It is important that the applicant belongs to the circle of rightful claimants/heirs of that original owner. A letter is then sent to the applicant and the RCE describing the Committee’s procedure. In this letter any questions the Committee has are put to them.

Investigation Phase and Overview of the Facts

The Restitutions Committee may instruct the Second World War and Restitution Applications Expertise Centre (the Expertise Centre) to conduct an investigation into the relevant historical facts. This will be necessary for virtually all restitution applications. In the investigation phase the Expertise Centre will first of all inventory the information submitted by the applicant and the RCE. In many cases it emerges that further historical and/or art historical research is needed in order to make it possible to answer questions relevant to giving advice. This concerns research in various archives in the Netherlands and other countries. Information about the original ownership situation, the nature and circumstances of the loss of possession, and the handling of any request submitted after the war for restitution is important.

The relevant information collected during the investigation phase is recorded in a draft overview of the facts that the Expertise Centre sends to the applicant and the RCE for additional information. The Expertise Centre sends the overview of the facts to the Restitutions Committee after these additions have been incorporated.
You can find more information about the procedure followed by Restitutions Committee and the Expertise Centre here.

Analysis Phase

The Committee gives the applicant and the RCE the opportunity to respond to the overview of the facts. After this – in principle – a hearing will be organized. The Committee may also ask the Expertise Centre to conduct further research if this is necessary for adopting a recommendation. Before the Restitutions Committee issues its recommendation, it sends the applicant and the RCE a draft, to which they can respond. After the recommendation has been adopted, it is signed by the chair and the secretary. The recommendation is then sent to the RCE, after which the Minister of OCW will make a decision about the restitution application. The Committee notifies the applicant of the fact that the recommendation has been issued. The RCE notifies the applicant of the Minister’s decision within six weeks of receiving the recommendation. If the Minister decides to restitute, a notary will establish who all the rightful claimants are.