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Library of Art History at the Kulturforum

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Matthäikirchplatz 6
10785 Berlin

Opening hours

The reading room in the Kunstbibliothek will be accessible from 9 am to 8 pm, Monday to Friday.

Library information desk

Phone: +49 30 266424141
E-Mail: auskunft.kb[at]

Scope and holdings

  • Library of Art History
  • Collection areas: Art history and art theory; architecture, book art, the graphic arts, the decorative arts, painting, poster art, sculpture.
  • Holdings statistics: 404,050 volumes, 17,327 electronic publications (datenbases, e-journals, e-books), 69,547 auction catalogues, 49,932 microforms, 1,376 currently subscribed periodicals (as of Dec 2019).
  • Historical book collections: approximately 24,000 volumes. See detailed description in 'Handbuch der historischen Buchbestände in Deutschland, Österreich und Europa'.
  • DFG funding from 1972 to 2010: Architecture of the 20th and 21st century; art from the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America, the United States, and Scandinavia.


  • User Guidelines of the Kunstbibliothek.
  • Terms of Use of the Kunstbibliothek (Download, PDF, 202 KB)
  • Reference library, reading room with 66 desks and 2 private reading closets, orders available at issue desk in 30 to 45 minutes.
  • Rare books: Rare books and manuscripts are usually only available one day after ordering.
  • Special collections: The holdings from the Collection of Book Art and Media Art (ref NB), Grisebach Collection (ref Gris) and Collection of Ornament Prints (ref OS) are issued to view in the study room one day after the order has been placed.
  • Interlibrary loans: International Standard Identifier for Libraries and Related Organisations. (ISIL): B 11, loan region BER = Berlin and Brandenburg only; transfer of paper media only.

Technical equipment

  • Colour and black-and-white photocopiers
  • microfiche reader
  • CD-ROM databases (incl.: BHA, Avery index, AKL, Artprice Index)
  • online databases
  • photographic reproductions to order


Electronic catalogues:

Traditional catalogues:

  • Alphabetical card catalogue (all items acquired before 1994 systematized according to the ‘Prussian Instructions’, a historical cataloguing system)
  • shelf catalogue; various formal and subject catalogues


Users can browse the Kunstbibliothek’s main catalogue via the Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin’s online catalogue, with the URL To place an order for an item from our holdings, all you need to do is enter your library pass number and the first three letters of your surname. The searchable database is a subsection of the GBV Common Library Network database (Gemeinsamer Bibliotheksverbund). The online catalogue contains all journals, all monographs acquired since 1995, and all articles catalogued since 2004, held at the Kunstbibliothek. We are currently in the process of adding older titles to the online catalogue. The OPAC also contains all monographs and magazines acquired since mid-2003 currently held at the specialist departmental libraries of the many institutions and museums that make up the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. For information on the possible search options, please turn to the catalogue help pages.

Traditional cataloguing system (cards and microfiche catalogues)
The Kunstbibliothek’s traditional card catalogue system consists of ‘formal’ catalogues and subject catalogues. ‘Formal’ catalogues provide access to formal features of books (author, title, publisher/museum/gallery, etc.). They provide the answer as to whether a library owns a particular book, and which books by a particular author are held at the library. Subject catalogues are ordered according to the contents of books (person, place, object, topic, etc.). They provide information as to which books a library has on a particular topic. Which kind of catalogue you should consult depends on the kind of information you are looking for.

The following formal catalogues are available for use within the Kunstbibliothek:

  • Alphabetical author and title catalogue (Verfasser- und Sachtitelkatalog), abbreviated: AK. Compiled and ordered according to the ‘Preussische Instruktionen’ (Prussian Instructions, a historical cataloguing system), includes the holdings of the Kunstbibliothek, the Lipperheide Costume Library, the Grisebach Collection, and the Collection of Book Art and Media Art. Not included in the catalogue are auction catalogues, and storeroom catalogues, and our holdings of ornament prints. Exhibition and collection catalogues are only partially included.
  • The catalogue of exhibition catalogues, (Katalog der Ausstellungskataloge), abbreviated: ZA. Sorted first by place, then by year of publication. For places with an especially high number of titles (for example Berlin), the publishing institution (usually the museum or gallery holding the exhibition) is included, followed by the year, listed in chronological order.
  • The catalogue of the collection catalogues (Sammlungskataloge), shortened: ZS. It is sorted by place, then publishing institution, then year.
  • The catalogue of inventory catalogues of art dealers (Lagerkataloge von Kunsthändlern), abbreviated: ZL. Sorted alphabetically according to name (gallery or art dealer), then chronologically by year.
  • The auction catalogues of auction houses (Versteigerungskataloge von Auktionshäusern), abbreviated: ZV. Sorted alphabetically according to name (auction house), then chronologically by year.

The following subject catalogues are available for use within the Kunstbibliothek:

  • The systematic catalogue (systematischer Katalog), abbreviated SyKa. The SyKa uses pre-coordinate indexing by subject group. It also acts as a shelf-list catalogue with entries sorted in the same order as the items were shelved, until the changeover to an accession number system (in 1992). It is indexed through a keyword catalogue, a place catalogue, and a name catalogue containing the names of non-artists.
  • The systematic catalogue of the Lipperheide Costume Library. Alphabetically sorted according to keywords.
  • The artist catalogue. Alphabetically ordered according to the name of the artist discussed in the text (monograph, article in journal, or exhibition catalogue), then chronologically by year. Names appear as printed in Thieme-Becker and Vollmer (standard encyclopaedias of artist biographies). The artist catalogue contains copied main entries from the AK, which state the shelf number for the item. In essays published in journals, the artist catalogue only provides a reference to the magazine or journal in which the essay features. For the shelf number of the magazine or journal in question, please refer to the AK.
  • The collector’s catalogue. Contains copies of index cards from the AK and references to the catalogues ZL, ZV, and some parts of ZA. First sorted alphabetically according to the collector’s name, then chronologically per year.

Important abbreviations on the catalogue cards:

Relating to collection:

  • Gris = Grisebach Collection (use in study room)
  • Lipp = Lipperheide Costume Library (use in study room)
  • LS = Lesesaal ‘reading room’ (own AK and shelf-list catalogue)
  • NB = Sammlung Neue Buchkunst – Collection of Book Art and Media Art (use in study room)
  • Mack = Mackowsky legacy (use in study room)
  • PER = current periodical subscription
  • R = rare item (order requires special form)
  • So.Dr. = (Sonderdruck) special printed edition
  • StudS = study room (Lipperheide Costume Library)

Format descriptions:

  • kl = (klein) small
  • mtl = (mittel) medium
  • gr = (groß) large
  • ügr = (übergroß) extra large
  • quer = (quer) horizontal format

The holdings of the former Museumsbibliothek Dahlem and the former Zentralbibliothek Museumsinsel were relocated to the Kunstbibliothek’s main building in 1998. They are indexed in microfiche catalogues and can be ordered in the reading room. Items from these collections must be ordered one day in advance. Items with museum abbreviations on the catalogue cards are held externally and can only be viewed in the respective museum. In the Kunstbibliothek’s main collection, most cards are marked with a handwritten X. When this sign does not appear on a card, it indicates that the item was lost in the Second World War. If it appears that the book you are looking for is not held at the Kunstbibliothek, we strongly advise making a search in the MF catalogues of the individual museum libraries, whose holdings supplement the Kunstbibliothek’s.