GRACE: Unifying Efforts Against Art and Cultural Heritage Crime

By Dirk Vanduffel - Monday, December 4, 2023
GRACE: Unifying Efforts Against Art and Cultural Heritage Crime

GRACE (Ghent Research institute for Art & cultural heritage Crime and Law Enforcement) was founded on February 1, 2023 by representatives of the University of Ghent, the Local Police of Ghent and the Museum of Fine Arts Ghent. It started as a Ghent initiative - what's in a name - but soon various Flemish, federal, and even Dutch organizations joined the network.

It was clear that the lack of collaboration among various institutions and individuals working on art and culturalheritage crime emerged as an important issue during several discussions. An expertise center on art crime could contribute to knowledge about art and cultural heritage crime, and serve as a meeting point for different relevant partners.

Mathias Desmet, Member of the Board :"The primary goal of GRACE is to be an expertise center focusing on the gathering and dissemination of information. GRACE not only serves as an information platform among its members but will ultimately become a point of contact for external parties in need of information or expertise. This is achieved through publications and seminars/colloquia".

He continues :"Secondly, GRACE will also be a platform where people from different sectors can meet,  in meetings and organized events, to establish contacts and exchange information about art and cultural heritage crime. Many colleagues and institutions work in this field, but they often do not know each other's work, hindering the exchange of information, the establishment of collaborations, and awareness of each other's needs. GRACE serves as a meeting point and is a catalyst for future collaborations. The expertise center can contribute in its own way to combating crimes related to art and cultural heritage. In light of these objectives, GRACE primarily consists of members from academia, local and federal police and the cultural sector".

In its first year, GRACE primarily focused on knowledge sharing. A successful first seminar took place early 2023 and a follow-up is planned for December 11, 2023, once again at the Museum of Fine Arts Ghent. Recently, GRACE also joined forces with Cahiers Politiestudies to release a special issue on "Art Crime" (69-Art Crime - Gompel&Svacina (

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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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