In its present form, the register is a tool which helps the Police, Customs Service and Border Authorities in searching for and identifying lost cultural property. As a publically accessible database, it also allows other individuals to check whether an item is a missing one. It is an extremely useful tool for antique dealers, auction houses and their clients – all those actively involved in the antiquities market.
Work on creating a catalogue of data about lost cultural property was instigated by the Centre for Art Collections Protection in the late 1980s. Initially, data was compiled about lost museum artefacts.
A survey was conducted encompassing all Polish museums, taking into account losses resulting from theft and disappearances after 1970. The collated information was logged on record forms known as ‘portable antiquities white cards’, modelled on those used by the State Heritage Protection Service and on museum record cards. With the creation in 1992 of the first electronic database for the Catalogue of lost and stolen cultural property, losses incurred in subsequent years by ecclesiastical buildings, private collectors, libraries and other institutions also began to be logged.
The existing catalogue database of lost and stolen cultural property was modernised after the 2003 Act on the on the Protection of monuments and the Guardianship of monuments came into force, being converted, in keeping with this act, into the National register of stolen and illegally exported antiquities.
Losses are reported to the National Register of Stolen or Illegally Exported Objects of Historical Value by the Police, Customs Service, Border Authorities, Provincial Heritage Protection Authorities and their agencies, as well as by museums and private individuals, or by institutions that own or manage antiquities. For a loss to be entered on the register, the relevant crime must earlier have been reported to the law enforcement agencies and data must be provided that will allow the lost item to be identified (photographs, basic dimensions and a description).
To go to National Register of Stolen or Illegally Exported Objects of Historical Value (site in Polish) go to https://www.skradzionezabytki.pl/