With The Marriage Trap as an example, we have seen that it is an immense task to do provenance research for all paintings that were probably in Europe from 1933 through 1945! Museums, however, have accepted this ongoing project as an important part of the stewardship of their collections.
In this particular instance, at least we know that our painting was processed through the appropriate channels after World War II. It was returned to Austria for restitution to its owner; we do not know who ended up with the painting. All we can do is be transparent about the provenance and hope more information comes to light in the future.
So, now that we’re done as much as we can about the provenance with the resources easily available to us, all of the documentation goes into the file for the object. Then, it’s time to write up the information for our collection database. Like most museums, the Milwaukee Art Museum uses a database for keeping track of all things related to the collection. We use one called The Museum System, or TMS, You can see a screen shot of it at the bottom of this post.