Art History Institute in Florence

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Art History Institute in Florence - Max Planck Institute
Art History Institute in Florence - Max Planck Institute
Art History Institute in Florence - Max Planck Institute
Category: research Institute
Carrier: Max Planck Society ( Munich )
Facility location: Florence ( Italy )
Type of research: The history of art and architecture in Europe, the Mediterranean and Italy in a global horizon
Subjects: Cultural studies
Areas of expertise: Art history
Management: Alessandro Nova
Gerhard Wolf

The Art History Institute in Florence - Max Planck Institute (KHI) is one of the oldest research institutions in art history worldwide. His research focuses on the history of art and architecture in Europe, the Mediterranean and Italy on a global horizon. The Art History Institute in Florence was founded in 1897 on a private initiative by independent scholars and has been part of the Max Planck Society since 2002 . Since 2004 the research institute has been led by two directors. A special commitment applies to the promotion, profiling and networking of young, international researchers.


In the circle of scholars, connoisseurs and artists around Karl Eduard von Liphart , the idea was discussed of building an art-historical research facility in Florence based on the model of the Instituto di Corrispondenza Archeologica in Rome. The institute should consist of a library supervised by experts and a collection of images. Since 1883 August Schmarsow , professor of art history at the University of Breslau , campaigned in the Prussian ministry for the establishment of the institute in Florence. In order to underscore the then autonomous claim to having its own research institute for the young discipline of art history, August Schmarsow spent a winter semester in Florence in 1888, doing research and lecturing there. In Florence, he and his students, including Max Jakob Friedländer , Max Semrau and Aby Warburg , established the "Institute of Art History". It was not until the art historians' congress in Nuremberg in 1893 that it was decided to set up a research institute in Florence, and in the course of this an executive committee was set up. The establishment of the institute and the election of Heinrich Brockhaus as future director were announced publicly at the International Congress of Art Historians in Budapest in 1896. The institute was provisionally opened on November 16, 1897 in Brockhaus's private apartment. On January 1st, 1901, the first "Scientific Meeting" was held in the institute, from which the institute's public lectures, which are still common today, arose. In the spring of 1908 the first course for senior teachers and directors of Prussian higher schools took place, and this event resulted in the regular courses that are still held today.

Initially, the whole of Italy was looked after from Florence; after the Bibliotheca Hertziana was founded in Rome in 1913, work concentrated primarily on northern and central Italy.

On May 16, 1915, the institute closed "for the duration of the war", which will become seven years. After Italy declared war on Germany, the institute was confiscated on August 26, 1916, and the collection of books and photos was transferred to the premises of the former main post office, which the Uffizi Gallery used as a depot. Wilhelm von Bode got involved in the return negotiations in 1922. The return of the collection to the German administration took place on August 10, 1922. In 1927 the contract of accommodation in the Uffizi expired and the institute returned to the premises of the Palazzo Guadagni.

Between 1935 and 1943, the director Friedrich Kriegbaum tried to protect the Art History Institute from increasing appropriation by the National Socialist state. On January 27, 1944, the institute's operations in Palazzo Guadagni were closed and on February 20, 1944, the collections were transferred to Germany in a special train and in 700 boxes to the Bad Friedrichshall salt mine near Heilbronn. In 1945 the Florentine institute stocks from Kochendorf were moved to the American Offenbach Archival Depot . Benedetto Croce publicly called on the Italian government to bring about the repatriation of the German Historical Institute , the Bibliotheca Hertziana and the German Archaeological Institute . From August 14, 1947, under the librarian Enrico Jahier, who was in the meantime acting on a temporary basis, the holdings in the Palazzo Guadagni were made accessible again as the "Biblioteca Internazionale d'Arte", financed by UNESCO. On February 27, 1953, Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and Prime Minister Alcide De Gasperi agreed on the official reopening of the institutes in Italy under German leadership.

In 1961, due to the renewed lack of space, the Palazzo Capponi-Incontri in Via Giuseppe Giusti 44 was acquired by the family of Marchese Attilo Incontri through the Fritz Thyssen Foundation and handed over to the sponsors' association as the future institute headquarters.

On November 4, 1966, Florence was hit by one of the greatest flood disasters in its history and the institute was also directly affected. Around ten thousand books were in need of restoration, the furniture was damaged and much was irretrievably lost. The restoration work lasted until 1968.

In 1972 the institute was expanded to include Casa Rosselli (Via Giuseppe Giusti 38-40), which is adjacent to the Palazzo Capponi-Incontri . Another expansion took place in 1987 with the purchase of Casa del Sarto-Zuccari .

The libraries of the Hertziana in Rome , the Central Institute for Art History in Munich and the KHI in Florence decided in 1994 to establish a network for cooperative, computer-aided literature indexing. The establishment of a common network and an electronic database went hand in hand with this.

The solemn transition of the institute to the Max Planck Society took place on June 3, 2002 with a ceremony in the Aula Magna of the University of Florence .

The directors have been Gerhard Wolf , previously a professor at the University of Trier , since 2003 , and Alessandro Nova , previously a professor at the University of Frankfurt , since 2006 .



In cooperation with museums, universities and other institutions, around 70 scholars are currently studying the history of the arts and visual cultures from the 4th century to the present at the Art History Institute in Florence . In addition to individual research, collaborative projects are carried out, including a. on the relationship between ethics and architecture, on the history of science and museums, on photography, on the aesthetics of the environment and landscape, on transcultural art history, on visual languages ​​or the entanglement of image and thing discourses.

Researchers from all over the world can use the institute's own resources. Above all, this includes the library with over 360,000 volumes, some of which are very rare, 1,000 current journals and one of the world's most extensive photo libraries on Italian art history with a collection of over 620,000 photographs.

With the extensive holdings of the photo library and library, several research groups and programs, a wide range of conferences, lectures, seminars, workshops, study courses and summer schools as well as several publication series and a journal, the institute is a laboratory and forum for an international and interdisciplinary open scientific exchange.

Announcements from the Art History Institute in Florence

Since 1908, the institute has published the notices of the Art History Institute in Florence , which today are among the most traditional and renowned art historical journals in the world. Since 2013, the announcements have been published three times a year in a new layout. They publish new research devoted to Italian art from late antiquity to the 20th century, as well as its global references. Special issues appear at regular intervals that go beyond research into Italy and can be devoted to more general aspects of art history.


The library of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz is purely a reference library with a systematic open access listing of the entire inventory.

She has specialized literature mainly on the art of Italy. The period covered extends from late antiquity to the present. The neighboring disciplines such as history, literary studies, classical archeology, theology and church history as well as philosophy are represented with relevant overview and reference works. The library currently holds around 300,000 volumes. There are also periodicals with over 2,600 titles (approx. 60,000 volumes), of which approx. 1,000 are kept on an ongoing basis. The library's holdings increase by around 7,000 volumes every year. There are also approx. 1,000 individual issues or annual volumes from the field of magazines.

Collection focus

Traditionally, the focus of the collection is on artist monographs, exhibition and collection catalogs, art topographical literature on the regions and places of Italy, and source literature. With regard to the latter, the Kunsthistorisches Institut has an important collection of works, mostly in original editions, from the beginning of book printing to the present day. Recently, primary and secondary literature on the areas of 'art history of the Mediterranean region' (with a focus on Byzantium) and 'Italian art in the 19th century taking international and interdisciplinary issues into account' has been collected. In addition, works on art in central and northern Italy and literature on Italian art from the 19th century to the present were collected on behalf of the DFG.

Photo library

For over a century, the photo library has been collecting illustration material mainly on Italian art from late antiquity to modern times, with a focus on 'Central and Upper Italy'. The inventory of over 620,000 photographs has developed in coordination with the institute's scientific projects. From the beginning, the intention was to create a comprehensive documentation of works of different genres and eras. As part of this offer, those areas are therefore particularly well equipped that have traditionally been the focus of the institute's research activities.

The transition to the "new media" (electronic cataloging, digital photography, visualization and presentation tools on the Internet) has shaped the activities of the photo library for years. The dawn of the digital era, however, has also sharpened the scientific eye for the historical dimension of analog photography. This means that the historical holdings of the photo library are also becoming the focus of research interest. Due to its long history, it has old, sometimes rare photographs as well as photographic bundles from estates and donations from important art historians, which are of their own value as research subjects. Preservation, maintenance and expansion of the historical structures, which are extremely relevant to the history of science, are therefore of just as fundamental importance for the photo library as the consistent use and further development of the current media.

The inventory is systematically expanded through photo campaigns, purchases (analog and digital photos, negatives), bequests and gifts. Own digital photo campaigns concentrate on the documentation of less or inaccessible monuments such as private palaces and villas in Florence and the surrounding area. For the implementation of thematic photo campaigns, the photo library cooperates with Florentine museums such as the Galleria dell'Accademia, the Giardino di Boboli or the Bargello. As part of the CENOBIUM project, Romanesque capitals in cloisters in the Mediterranean area are being recorded and examined.

The digital photo library contains images from various sources: digital photo campaigns, purchased digital copies or digitized negatives from the archive. Approximately 62,000 photos are freely available on the Internet as high-resolution image files.


  • About the establishment of an art history institute in Florence . Memorandum of the Board of Directors. Freiburg im Breisgau, Wagner, 1899.
  • The Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz: 1888, 1897, 1925. Wilhelm von Bode on the occasion of his eightieth birthday on December 10, 1925, presented by the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence with gratitude and admiration . Leipzig, Haberland, 1925.
  • Hans W. Hubert: The Art History Institute in Florence. From the foundation to the centenary (1897-1997) . Florence, Il Ventilabro, 1997, ISBN 88-86972-03-2 .
  • Guido Guidi. Appuntamento a Firenze / An appointment in Florence / Appointment in Florence , ed. by Costanza Caraffa and Tiziana Serena, Cologne, Buchhandlung Walther König, 2018, ISBN 978-3-96098-280-7 (illustrated book).

Web links

Commons : Art History Institute in Florence  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ History. Retrieved April 26, 2018 .
  2. ^ History of the institute ( Memento of the original dated February 3, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. ^ Daniel Schöningh: The first art history holiday course in Italy for teachers of higher education institutions . Poznan 1909.
  4. Hans W. Hubert: The Art History Institute in Florence. From the foundation to the centenary (1897-1997) . Florence 1997, p. 3ff.
  5. ^ History. Retrieved April 26, 2018 .
  6. ^ History. Retrieved April 26, 2018 .
  7. ^ History. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on December 1, 2017 ; accessed on April 26, 2018 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  8. ^ History. Retrieved April 26, 2018 .
  9. ^ History. Retrieved April 26, 2018 .
  10. ^ History. Retrieved April 26, 2018 .
  11. ^ History. Retrieved April 26, 2018 .
  12. ^ History. Retrieved April 26, 2018 .
  13. ^ History. Retrieved April 26, 2018 .
  17. ^ Library. Retrieved April 27, 2018 .
  18. General. Retrieved April 27, 2018 .
  19. Research projects of the photo library. Retrieved April 27, 2018 .
  20. Holdings of the photo library. Retrieved April 27, 2018 .
  21. Digital resources of the photo library. Retrieved April 27, 2018 .
  22. Holdings of the photo library. Retrieved April 27, 2018 .
  23. CENOBIUM - A project for the multimedia presentation of Romanesque cloister capitals in the Mediterranean area. Retrieved April 27, 2018 .
  24. Digital resources of the photo library. Retrieved April 27, 2018 .

Coordinates: 43 ° 46 ′ 38.1 ″  N , 11 ° 15 ′ 50.4 ″  E