The collection of 1,280 masterpieces, including works the Nazis stole from Jewish families, was hoarded by Gurlitt in his Munich, Germany, apartment after he inherited them from his father, an art dealer with Nazi connections.
Cornelius Gurlitt, a recluse who never married and had no children, died earlier this week at age 81.
The museum, known as the Kunstmuseum Bern, said in a statement Wednesday it was surprised and pleased by the bequest, although noting “at no time has Mr. Gurlitt had any connection with the Kunstmuseum Bern.”
The museum acknowledged “this magnificent bequest brings with it a considerable burden of responsibility,” noting “questions in particular of a legal and ethical nature.”
After the artworks -- including several by Picasso, Monet and Manet -- were confiscated from Gurlitt by authorities, they were returned to him a month before his death, with the understanding their rightful owners will be sought.
The museum now has that obligation.