The Kunstbibliothek presides over and maintains one of the most important collections of material relating to European architecture from the 15th century to the present. Its holdings comprise 50,000 drawings. Its nucleus was formed by a collection, presented to the Kunstbibliothek in 1867 and originally compiled (at the request of the Greater Berlin Artisans’ Association) by the German Design Museum, which had its own teaching facilities and library. In the late 19th century a more extensive and valuable collection of Italian drawings was passed on to the library by the Kupferstichkabinett. The drawings stemmed from the collection of Vincenzo Pacetti and primarily dated from the 16th to 18th century, and included works by Francesco Borromini, Filippo Juvarra, and Giovanni Battista Piranesi.
In addition to these Italian works, French and English architectural drawings from the former collection of Hippolyte Destailleur were also added to the architecture collection. Sheets from the period around 1800, often dubbed the 'Age of Schinkel', originate from the private libraries of the art collector Wilhelm von Bode and Marc Rosenberg; they include designs by David and Friedrich Gilly, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Friedrich August Stüler, and Ludwig Persius. We largely have the bequeathed estates of Joseph Maria Olbrich, Erich Mendelsohn, Heinrich Tessenow, and Fritz Höger to thank for our holdings of 20th-century architectural drawings. Since the 1960s, accessions of architectural models have enriched the collection, and stand in close relation to the drawings. In addition, visitors to the architectural collection are also free to study our collection of art and decorative drawings, sketchbooks, architectural photographs, and autographs.