An essential activity of the Cantor Arts Center is to document as fully as possible the works of art that have entered its permanent collection or that are being considered for a long-term loan. This documentation includes records of exhibition and publication, physical condition, and provenance.
The goal of provenance research is to trace the history of ownership from the time the artwork was created until it entered the museum’s collection. This research can be very complex and challenging due to a number of factors, including changes in the attribution and title; physical alteration of a work; the absence, loss, or destruction of transfer documents and other records; ambiguities in family histories; an owner’s desire for anonymity; societal and political upheaval; natural disasters; and poor record-keeping over time. Consequently, gaps in provenance are common and do not necessarily mean the object has a problematic past.