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Profile of the Institut für Museumsforschung

The Institut für Museumsforschung (Institute for Museum Research) is the research and documentation centre at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. It carries out multidisciplinary research on all aspects of museums and their collections and offers services to museums across Germany. The institute is situated in Berlin-Dahlem.

Founded in 1979 as the Institut für Museumskunde (Institute of Museology), and renamed in 2006, the Institut für Museumsforschung provides services to museums throughout Germany as well as the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin in the areas of research, the practical dissemination of knowledge, and documentation. It supplements the activities of the regional museum associations as well as the advisory and public bodies in each of the German states.

The scope of the institute’s work includes visitor research, digitalisation, long-term archiving, museum management, documentation, new media and education. Findings pertinent to the museums are published in three serial publications: 'Berliner Schriften zur Museumsforschung', 'Materialien aus dem Institut für Museumsforschung' and 'Mitteilungen und Berichte aus dem Institut für Museumsforschung'. The institute also publishes annual statistics on museums in Germany.

The Institut für Museumsforschung is actively involved in numerous national and international research projects, including cross-sector collaborations with archives and libraries. The institute has also joined a number of cooperation projects, and in some cases is also responsible for project management.

About the institute

The Institut für Museumsforschung (Institute for Museum Research)  is a centre for research and documentation that is dedicated to multidisciplinary museological research, covering all aspects of museums and their collections. It provides services to museums throughout Germany and to the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin in the areas of research, applied knowledge-transfer, and documentation. The institute complements the work of the regional museum associations, advisory bodies and local government offices within the German states. As it is not a centralised federal institution and has no federal mandate, the Institut für Museumsforschung does not affect the autonomy of the German states in cultural matters.

Research projects are developed in cooperation with specialists from relevant disciplines (art history, historical museology, social sciences, education, business etc.) Projects are oriented on the needs of the museums as well as general pertinent areas of museology and practical issues.

In line with its charter, the Institut für Museumsforschung cooperates with the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin in the federal programme of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz. This includes providing information and services related to statistics on museums in Germany, as well as consultancy services and cooperating with research institutes and cultural authorities throughout Germany. The directors of the Institut für Museumsforschung also serve as members of the councils and boards of the museums and foundations.


Over the past years, there has been a very evident shift in the focus of research planning, infrastructure planning and cooperation projects. While the federal and German perspective remains very strong, European and international collaboration is growing in importance.

This means that pragmatic solutions for the development of guidelines and standards need to be expanded. The 'global village' already exists when it comes to planning research projects and learning from partners who may have long answered current research questions.

The digitalisation and the introduction of web-based network projects is accelerating this development. The museums are also affected by these structural changes (key words: new sponsorship models, budgeting, privatisation, business rather than government accounting etc.) which creates new tasks for the Institut für Museumsforschung.

Together with the Deutsche Museumsbund, the institute outlined these developments in 2012 in a memorandum on the position of the museums: "Denkschrift zur Lage der Museen". The paper appears under the title "Museen zwischen Qualität und Relevanz" in the institute’s own series "Berliner Schriften zur Museumsforschung". The article is being edited for online publication.