Monday - Friday
9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Brief Description

The photographic archive of the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte is one of the largest photographic study collections on European art history from the early medieval period to the twentieth century.  The holdings are freely accessible for all visitors and organized in five sections:

  • Topography (architecture and urbanism, alphabetically according to country and location)
  • Artists (visual arts, alphabetically by name)
  • Museum topography (anonymous works in collections, alphabetically according to location)
  • Illuminated manuscripts (according to location)
  • Applied arts (according to material and repository location)

Some parts of the holdings are organized in separate independent special collections, as for instance items from the estate of Erich Meyer or the Schrey collection.

The photographic archive possesses over 900,000 media items. Included in this is the “Bildarchiv der deutschen Kunst” (Pictorial Archive of German Art) with 275,000 photographs, assembled between 1961 and 1975 with the support of the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.

In addition to around 770,000 black and white photographs, among them many historically valuable photographic prints from the second half of the nineteenth century, the photographic archive owns a large number of colour slides and negatives, which for the most part are also available in digital format.

Focuses of the Collection

  • German topography
  • Cathedral architecture in Germany and France
  • Central European wall and ceiling painting
  • Paintings on panel of the pre-Dürer era
  • Medieval applied arts
  • Manuscript illumination
  • Art of the National Socialist period

Ordering copies

As a study collection, the photographic archive has only limited rights for reproducing its holdings.  For photographs with expired copyright or images whose exploitation rights lie with the photographic archive, the archive will make available digitised versions for study or publication purposes on request at any time.

The photographic archive of the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte is a member of the Arbeitskreis kunsthistorischer Bildarchive und Fototheken (AKBF), founded in 2004.