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Elizabeth Campbell

Director, Center for Art Collection Ethics, Associate Professor of History, University of Denver

I teach courses in modern European and French history, including the French Revolution, Europe during the World Wars, Nazi art looting, and seminars on the history and memory of World War II in France and the Algerian war of independence. My first book, Defending National Treasures: French Art and Heritage under Vichy, (Stanford University Press, 2011), examines French cultural policy during the German occupation, including the Vichy regime's reaction to Nazi looting of Jewish art collections. Drawing on research in French archives, I argue that curators and museum directors aimed to acquire plundered works permanently for the Louvre and other state-run museums, complicating an enduring narrative of anti-Nazi Resistance in the fine arts administration.

My current book project, provisionally titled Museum Worthy: Nazi-Era Art in Postwar Western Europe, focuses on the Allied recovery of plundered art, comparing restitution practices in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. In all three cases, postwar governments held unclaimed works for display in state-run museums, setting the stage for controversy and litigation in the 1990s, and ongoing cultural property disputes. (Oxford University Press, forthcoming)

Recognizing the importance of provenance research and the ongoing need for training of current and future museum professionals, in the spring of 2017 I began developing plans for The Center for Art Collection Ethics (ACE), in consultation with DU faculty and staff in related programs. I have served as Director since April 2018. We promote ethical art collection stewardship through social media and postgraduate training programs.


  • –present
    Assistant Professor, University of Denver


Current research supported by the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities