Photography Collection

The Photography Collection comprises more than 760,000 photographs from the early years of the medium through to contemporary works of art. This includes the image archive and the collection of artistic photography, which comprises sections ranging from art photography from the turn of the 20th century and the Neues Sehen movement of the 1920s, through to contemporary works. As well as this, the Collection boasts a rich array of photogrammetric photographs, historical postcards, and bequeathed estates of photographic material.

The Kunstbibliothek began collecting photographs in 1868, with an initial focus on material that could be used to form an image archive on architecture. The images of works of architecture and cityscapes, documentary and product photographs, all the way through to travel pictures from right around the world were produced mostly by commercial studios and photographers, such as Edouard Baldus, Domenico Bresolin, Robert MacPherson, Samuel Bourne, Eugène Atget, F. Albert Schwartz, Julie Laurberg, Werner Mantz, and Arthur Köster.

The core of the collection on art photography from the turn of the 20th century is made up of two large groups of works from the collectors Ernst Juhl and Fritz Matthies-Masuren, including pictures by Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, Heinrich Kühn, Minya Diez-Dührkoop and Hugo Henneberg. Between 1929 and 1932, major works from the Neues Sehen (New Vision) movement were purchased for the collection of artistic photography – most significantly pictures from the legendary Werkbund exhibition Film und Foto, which in 1929 were acceded to the Berlin collection from Stuttgart. The most important figures represented here include Aenne Biermann, Max Burchartz, Hans Finsler, Florence Henri, Helmar Lerski, László Moholy-Nagy, Albert Renger-Patzsch, and Sasha Stone.

It was not until the 1990s that the Collection began to actively expand its holdings again. Since then, a number of bequests and significant groups of works have been added to the Collection, including:

  • the estate of Martin Badekow, who in the 1920s ran one of Berlin’s most famous portrait studios
  • the press image archive of the Berlin-based photographer Willy Römer, spanning the 1910s to the mid-1940s
  • photographs by Bernard Larsson, who in the 1960s worked as a reporter in East and West Berlin
  • the estate of Ludwig Windstosser, a leading industrial photographer in the post-war era
  • architecture and nature photography by Sigrid Neubert from the 1950s to the 1990s
  • the estate of the product and artistic photographer Hansi Müller-Schorp, with works from the 1950s to the 1990s
  • the photographic estate of the photographer and filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl.   

The objects from the collection are stored at the Museum für Fotografie, where they can be inspected. Prior registration is necessary.


The digital database only provides access to sections of the Photography Collection. If you cannot find particular items on there, get in touch with the Kunstbibliothek by telephone or email.

Museum für Fotografie
Jebensstrasse 2
10623 Berlin

Opening hours

By appointment.

Contact for Requesting Items from the Photography Collection

E-Mail: kb[at]

Digital photographs from the Photography Collection can also be found through the following portals:

  • Pictorialism Portal
    The Pictorialism Portal catalogues more than 2,300 objects from the field of art photography at the turn of the 20th century. This includes some 600 works from the Photography Collection of the Kunstbibliothek, along with around 1,700 pictures from German museum holdings and publications that were researched in the 1980s by the historian of photography Enno Kaufhold.
  • Bildagentur bpk
    Via the Bildagentur bpk portal, more than 8,700 photographs from the archive of Willy Römer can be found using the search query: “Willy Römer” -ullstein.
  • Bildindex der Kunst & Architektur
    A large portion of the Collection’s image archive, featuring some 15,000 architecture photographs from the 19th and early 20th century, primarily from the German-speaking world, was catalogued around 1980 for the joint databank Bildindex der Kunst und Architektur. For a targeted search, you need to change the search box from “Werke” to “Bilder”, and use kbb* as a limiting search category. Of the images from the Preussische Messbildanstalt/Staatlichen Bildstelle Berlin contained in the Photography Collection, another 11,000 architecture and sculpture photographs are publicly accessible via Bildindex. Here too, you need to change your search category from “Werke” to “Bilder”, and you need to use “Kunstbibliothek Berlin” as a limiting search category.