Traditionally provenance helps establish two things. It allows a Museum to trace the history of the ownership of an object back through time. Ideally this proves a complete and clear history of ownership – in other words the work has not been stolen or a forgery. But also, and importantly, it allows the art historian to prove that a piece of art existed in a given period and can thereby be associated with a given artist or a given school.
In 2003 / 2004 claims were made against the provenance of the collection of The Hunt Museums Trust. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, Paris, claimed that John and Gertrude Hunt acquired a range of items by inapposite means. There followed a period of intense research with claims and counter claims supporting and / or rebutting various arguments. No item in the collection of the Trust has been identified as originating in dubious circumstances. The Museum was among the first in Ireland to illustrate all of its collection on the web to facilitate research and to show openness to any group or individual who had concerns about a given object.