5.3.8 Other areas of culture specific legislation
In 1998, the Federal Law for the Restitution of Works of Art from Austrian Collections to their Jewish Heirs was passed and a working group set up to clarify the provenance of works of art in question. In addition, an advisory committee was set up in 1998 by the former Ministry for Education, Science and Culture. A Historical Commission has also been created (jointly by the Austrian Federal Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor, the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Speaker of the Federal Council) with a mandate to investigate and report on the whole complex of expropriations in Austria during the Nazi era and on restitution and / or compensation (including other financial or social benefits) after 1945 by the Republic of Austria. In the meantime, seven restitution reports have been published at national level.
The Federal Law for the Restitution of Works of Art does not concede any legal position to the heirs. It refers to holdings of the federal museums and state collections; exceptions include the Leopold Collection (confiscation of two paintings of this collection in New York initiated the debate which led to the federal law) and holdings of art universities. An amendment to the Art Restitution Act is being prepared and should no longer be limited to the federal museums but should be extended to all moveable federal property.