Asian art
provenance project
Back to Asian art

The NGA researches, documents and publishes information about its collection as a fundamental part of its mission and as an ethical member of the museum community. Here you can access ongoing research into the origins and ownership histories, or provenance, of works of art from the Gallery’s Asian art collection.

Provenance research is intended to establish a chain of documented ownership from the time of a work's creation to the present. We are aiming to assess and publish the collecting histories of all works of art in the collection, around 5000 art objects, not only those with incomplete provenance. This will take time and new information will be added as research progresses.

We are keen to hear from you about our project, so please share your knowledge. If you have any information please email us at

Australian and International Conventions and Best Practice

The Gallery adheres to the principles of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The obligations and principles under this treaty are reflected in the international and Australian codes of museum ethics to which the Gallery subscribes. The Gallery is also subject to Australian legislation including the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986.

In 2014 the Ministry for the Arts released the Australian Best Practice Guide to Collecting Cultural Material. The guide outlines the legal obligations and ethical standards to which Australia’s public collecting institutions should adhere when acquiring and borrowing cultural material. The Gallery is committed to ensuring the guidelines are followed.

  • The NGA has been working with Indian officials since revelations about Subhash Kapoor of New York art dealership Art of the Past, and the return to India of Shiva as Lord of the Dance (Nataraja). Details of other items acquired from the dealer can be found here

Independent review of the project

The NGA Asian art provenance project has recently been subject to independent review by the Honourable Susan Crennan AC, former Justice of the High Court of Australia. A copy of Mrs Crennan’s review is available here.

Media releases related to the project can be accessed at the following links: