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OU Undergraduate Student Congress wants research done on art with potential Nazi ties

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Camille Pissarro's "Bergère rentrant des moutons"

Camille Pissarro's "Bergère rentrant des moutons" hangs in the Fred Jones Jr. Art Museum Oct. 28.

The OU Undergraduate Student Congress threw its hat into the ring of the stolen Nazi art controversy at OU.

At their meeting on Oct. 27, Congress requested there be a review of previous provenance research conducted at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.

Oklahoma State Representative Paul Wesselhoft said he hopes the push by the student government will be the momentum the museum and administration needs to conduct their research.

Wesselhoft called for the painting to be inspected in August, and he has been a major proponent of the painting being returned to Leone Meyer, who is suing OU to try to get the painting back after it was stolen from her family in WWII.

“You have the student body and student congress passing and supporting this resolution,” Wesselhoft said. "I have seen President Boren respond to students before with racial crises. I think this might happen again; the pressure from student congress will be the game-changer."

“What this is trying to do is making sure they check their research. In the event that the provenance research reveals that a piece has been stolen or it was obtained illegally somehow, our hope is that they will work to resolve the issue in a honorable and respectful way for both sides,” Ryan Echols, SGA representative of the Fine Arts District, said.

Echols and Eric Sundby, president of the Holocaust Remembrance and Restitution Society, brought the piece of legislation to Congress floor.

They would like to ensure that all the paintings have been obtained legally and  not been tampered with by Nazi members between the years 1932-1946, Echols said.

SGA President Alex Byron would like to emphasize, however, that it is not a joint resolution; it is simply a congressional resolution that will be treated as a statement that is supported by members of Congress.

“I think what’s most important to note is the distinction between a congressional resolution and a joint resolution. The resolution last night was only intended to pass through one body, which was the Undergraduate Student Congress, and in so doing, you’re not saying all of SGA supports this. You’re saying the Undergraduate Student Congress supports this resolution or legislation,” SGA President Alex Byron said.

This resolution passed 18-0 and had nine abstains.

Brianna Sims is a journalism freshman and news reporter at the Daily.

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