The Louvre Museum in Paris has put 31 paintings looted by the Nazis up for display, hoping to identify the artworks’ rightful owners.
Two show rooms were added to permanently exhibit the paintings, which were stolen in the era of World War II during the German occupation of France.
“These paintings don’t belong to us,” Sebastien Allard, the head of the paintings department at the Louvre, told The Associated Press Tuesday. “Museums often looked like predators in the past, but our goal is to return them.
“The large majority of the retrieved artworks have been plundered from Jewish families during World War II. Beneficiaries can see these artworks, declare that these artworks belong to them, and officially ask for their return,” he said.
In the years following the end of the war, more than 45,000 art objects were returned to their owners. But more than 2,000 have not been claimed, including 296 paintings that remain stored at Paris’ premiere art museum.
The 31 paintings span several eras and artists and includes a landscape by Theodore Rousseau titled, “La Source du Lizon.”
A panel created by the country’s Culture Ministry works to trace ownership of the stolen artifacts, but the painstaking task has resulted in only 50 pieces being returned since 1951.