German art archive

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The German Art Archive (DKA) in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum ( Nuremberg ) is the largest archive for written legacies on art and culture in the German-speaking area. It was founded in 1964 as an archive for fine arts within the Germanisches Nationalmuseum and renamed the “German Art Archive” on January 1, 2008 due to its increased importance.

Priorities and bequests as well as association documents from the field of fine arts are archived. It comprises almost 1400 stocks and has a scope of around 2.8 kilometers of shelves. The focus is on written archive material such as personal documents, correspondence and documents on the artistic or professional life of artists and art scholars from the late 19th century to the present day.

As a central research facility in the Federal Republic of Germany, the German Art Archive is not only responsible for collecting and preserving personal papers and bequests, but also for their scientific development and communication. Written inquiries are answered in compliance with copyright and personal protection rights, and the holdings are available to anyone interested in the reading room.

The German Art Archive sees itself as a lively communication center and as an interface between art production, science and the public. As a central institution in Germany with the task of collecting the written legacies of artists and art scholars, the primary goal of the German Art Archive is to protect against loss of cultural archive material.

The management of the archive was previously in the hands of Ludwig Veit , Irmtraud von Andrian-Werburg , Birgit Jooss and Roland Prügel. It has been headed by Susanna Brogi since 2018.


Significant bequests come from Lovis Corinth , Otto Dix , Olaf Gulbransson , Franz Marc , Gerhard Marcks , Gabriel von Max , Ernst Wilhelm Nay , Richard Riemerschmid and Werner Tübke . The documents for Christo's wrapping of the Reichstag were also given to the German Art Archive. Some artists have already submitted their documents to the archive as a so-called pre-release during their lifetime, including Johannes Grützke , Stefan Moses and Heinz-Günter Prager . The major art historians' bequests include those of Kurt Bauch , Ludwig Grote , Edwin Redslob and Wilhelm Worringer . Papers, such as that of Martin Warnke , are also kept in the German Art Archive. There are also some gallery and association holdings in the archive, for example the holdings of the Arnold / Gutbier or Heinemann galleries , the Künstleronderbund Germany or the Association of German Art Historians.

A regularly updated PDF list of names of all holdings in the German Art Archive is made available on the homepage of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum.

Since June 2014, all overviews of the holdings and individual directories have been accessible and researchable online on the company's own homepage.

The central database estates set up by the Koblenz Federal Archives . contains overviews of the holdings of natural persons with brief details of the contents, scope, duration and status of the list.

New additions and new entries are published annually in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum's display.


Since the mid-1970s, special monographic exhibitions in the “Works and Documents” series have been held in the German Art Archives, which are always accompanied by a catalog. On the basis of the artistic oeuvre as well as the written legacy, they show the individuality and time typical of each artist.

The following exhibitions have already taken place:


In July 2008 the lecture series "From the German Art Archive" started. Once a quarter, new scientific findings that researchers gain from their work in the archive are presented to an audience interested in art. The lectures are accompanied by small showcase exhibitions that illustrate the respective topic using original documents from the German Art Archive.

The following events took place:

  • 2008
    • Peter Kropmanns: Lovis and the Corinthians. The artist and his family in the mirror of art and the German Art Archive (from DKA 1)
    • Uta Kuhl: I have always said that you are the best letter writer of our century. On the correspondence between Gerhard Marcks and Hans Wimmer (from the DKA 2)
  • 2009
    • Hans-Joachim Hinz: Looted Art - Searching for Traces in the German Art Archive (from DKA 3)
    • Ruth Negendanck : Chiemsee artist landscape (from DKA 4)
    • Christian Welzbacher: Edwin Redslob . Cultural politicians and fighters for modernity (from DKA 5)
  • 2011
    • Karin Althaus: The artist, spiritualist and Darwinist Gabriel von Max (from DKA 10)
    • Gabriele Ewenz: Johann Wilhelm Schirmer . A pioneer of landscape painting in the 19th century (from DKA 11)
    • Matthias Hamann : Ludwig Dill's Memoirs: Between Poetry and Truth (From the DKA 12)
    • Claudia Quiring: Ernst May - plan athlete and building dictator? New perspectives on life and work (from DKA 13)
  • 2012
    • Birgit Jooss: Johannes Grützke . The many facets of an artist (from DKA 14)
    • Peter Bernhard: The unknown lessons of the Bauhaus (from DKA 15)
    • Anke Daemgen: The New Secession Berlin and the Upswing of Expressionism (from DKA 16)
    • Olaf Peters : Otto Dix and the art trade in the Weimar Republic (from DKA 17)
  • 2013
    • Andreas Strobl: The Simplicissimus draftsman Karl Arnold . Life, work and finds from the estate (from the DKA 18)
    • Hanna Strzoda: The Gallery of the 20th Century - A Berlin Museum of the Post-War Period. (From the DKA 19)
    • Martin Schieder: Un Art Autre. Franco-German art relations after 1945. (From DKA 20)
    • Ruth Negendanck : A smile for everyone. The Swedish-German painter and graphic artist Brynolf Wennerberg (from the DKA 21)
  • 2014
    • Thomas Bauer-Friedrich : “You can't paint like the ox roars”. Conrad Felixmüller between art and politics. (From the DKA 22)
    • Harald Tausch: "The Alchemist". Gustav Friedrich Hartlaub's contribution to cultural studies (from DKA 23)
    • Matthias Memmel: Arts in Exile - Fate of German Artists in the 20th Century (from DKA 24)
    • Gudrun Schmidt and Daniel Scholz: Otto Dix . Letters to family, friends and collectors, to art dealers and institutions (from the DKA 25)
  • 2015
    • Birgit Schwarz: Hans Posse - Adolf Hitler's special representative (from DKA 26)

Editions and publications

The German Art Archive supports publications and editions that are published by external scholars based on its own holdings. Among other things, on the basis of fundamental research in the archives of the German Art Archive, the following have appeared:

  • Karin Althaus and Helmut Friedel (eds.): Gabriel von Max . Painter star - Darwinist - Spiritist, Munich 2010.
  • Gabriele Ewenz: Johann Wilhelm Schirmer . From the Rhineland into the world. Autobiographical writings, Petersberg 2010.
  • Matthias Hamann (Ed.): Ludwig Dill . Memoirs, Dachau 2010.
  • Cathrin Klingsöhr-Leroy (Ed.): Lovis Corinth . Soul landscapes. Walchensee pictures and self-portraits, Cologne 2009.
  • Uta Kuhl: You are the best letter writer of our century [electronic resource]. The correspondence between Gerhard Marcks and Hans Wimmer 1942–1981 in the German Art Archive, Nuremberg 2009.
  • Ruth Negendanck: The gallery Ernst Arnold (1893–1951). Art trade and contemporary history, Weimar 1998.
  • Ruth Negendanck: Brynolf Wennerberg . Painter - draftsman - commercial artist, Fischerhude 2012.
  • Claudia Quiring, Wolfgang Voigt, Peter Cachola Schmal, Eckard Herrel (eds.): Ernst May 1886–1970, Munich 2011.

Scientific projects

Heinemann gallery online

From 2009 to 2010, the German Art Archives worked on a digitization project to index the written documents of the Munich gallery Heinemann (1872–1938). For decades, the gallery was one of the most important German art dealerships, until it was “Aryanized” in 1939 by the National Socialists. In 1972 the family handed over the received business documents to the German Art Archive.

The business books and card files of the Galerie Heinemann, which are in the German Art Archive in Nuremberg, as well as the catalogs and photographs, which are kept by the Central Institute for Art History in Munich, were processed for an Internet database. This important source material was digitized, transcribed and the information linked in a database. With the activation at the end of July 2010, the results will be available with the corresponding search options for free and free research on the Internet. The database provides information on more than 43,000 paintings from all epochs as well as about 13,000 people and institutions associated with their purchase or sale. The German Art Archive is thus providing provenance research with an excellent tool that will also be of central importance for research in the collections of German museums.

Access to the database is in the link in the footnote.

DigiPortA. Digitization and indexing of portrait photographs from the German Art Archive

Within its almost 1,400 holdings, the German Art Archive has numerous portrait photographs that come from both the private and the professional context of the respective people. So far, these have been difficult to find and only a small fraction has been digitized. For this reason, the much sought-after portrait photographs were digitized in 2013 and indexed with metadata in order to make them accessible to research in an internet database from 2015.

The "DigiPortA" development project is a joint project of nine archives of the Leibniz Association . Under the aegis of the archive of the Deutsches Museum, Munich, a total of 33,000 portraits will be taken and made available to research and the public using an innovative approach. With a focus on personal portraits from art, science and technology of the 19th and 20th centuries, the range of electronic biographies is expanded in a unique way. Through the description of the superordinate collection, extensive sources are newly opened up and verified for biography-historical research. In this context, the German Art Archive has digitized and recorded over 4,000 portrait photographs.

The access to the project description is in the link in the footnote.

Arts in exile

Within its almost 1,400 holdings, the German Art Archive has numerous documents from artists and art scholars who went into exile. So far, these have not been specifically grouped under this topic and only a small fraction has been digitized. The aim of the project is to research, research and make accessible images and texts from the holdings of the German Art Archive as part of the virtual exhibition “Arts in Exile”. The Internet platform, sponsored on behalf of the Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media and managed by the “German Exile Archive 1933–1945 of the German National Library”, deals with the exile and emigration of writers, filmmakers, visual artists, theater professionals and musicians, among others. It bundles the discussion of the topic and opens it up to a broad audience. In this way, she brings together the memories of the fates of the displacement of artists, especially those of artists, and brings them to society's awareness.

The access to the project description is in the link in the footnote.


  • Birgit Jooss : The German Art Archive in the Germanic National Museum. In: Art Chronicle. Monthly journal for art history, museums and monument preservation. Published by the Central Institute for Art History, vol. 61, Munich 2008, issue 7, p. 346 f.
  • Birgit Jooss: "The basis of all work in the German Art Archives remains the safeguarding of the written material and thus our cultural heritage for future art-historical research." In: anno RAK. Messages from the Rhenish archive for artist bequests. Issue 1. Bonn 2009, p. 22 f.
  • Birgit Jooss: The German Art Archive in the Germanic National Museum, Nuremberg. How to deal with the written estates of artists and art scholars. In: AKMB news. Information on art, museum and library. Vol. 16, Issue 1, 2010, pp. 16-21.
  • Birgit Jooss: The German Art Archive in the Germanic National Museum, Nuremberg. In: culture politics. Federal Association of Visual Artists. No. 2 June 2010, p. 15 f.
  • Birgit Jooss: The German Art Archive in Nuremberg as a research center for art from Central Germany. In: Culture Report. Central German Cultural Council Foundation. Issue 1, 2014, pp. 11–13.
  • Birgit Jooss: Against forgetting. The faces of the German Art Archive. In: Newsletter photography. Analog and digital image media in archives and collections. Edited by Hubert Locher and Christian Bracht, Vol. 21, No. 4, 2014, pp. 33-42.
  • Birgit Jooss: How we deal with our cultural memory. The German Art Archive in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg . In: Yes, what's that ?! Research in the museum (Bavarian Museum Day 2013). Edited by the State Office for Non-State Museums at the Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation, Munich 2014, pp. 40–43.
  • Claus Pese: The archive for fine arts in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum. In: Culture reports. Edited by the working group of independent cultural institutes (ASKI) eV, H.2, July 1997, p. 36 f.
  • Claus Pese: More than just art. The archive for fine arts in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum. Hatje, Ostfildern-Ruit 1998, ISBN 3-7757-0783-2 .
  • Claus Pese: Archives for Fine Arts. In: 1852/2002. Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Heidelberg 2001, p. 60 (= Vernissage, 9th year, H. 18).
  • Claus Pese: The archive for fine arts. In: Patrons, donors, donors. The Germanic National Museum and its collections. Nuremberg 2002, pp. 117–124.
  • Horst Pohl: Methods of order in the archive for fine arts. In: The archivist . Bulletin for German archives. Vol. 22, 1969, pp. 385-395.
  • Ludwig Veit : The historical archive and the archive for fine arts. In: The Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg 1852–1977. Edited by Bernward Deneke and Rainer Kahsnitz. Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich / Berlin 1978, ISBN 3-422-00684-2 , pp. 521-545.
  • Martina Wehlte-Höschele: The traces of the artists. The archive for fine arts in the Germanic National Museum in Nuremberg. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . August 27, 1987.

Web links

Commons : German Art Archive  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Germanisches Nationalmuseum (employee website Susanna Brogi).
  2. ^ German Art Archives (in Germanisches Nationalmuseum ).
  3. Online catalog of the German Art Archive. ( Memento from July 24, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  5. ^ Gallery Heinemann
  6. DigiPortA
  7. Arts in exile