Lucas Cranach the Younger: Portrait of Princess Elisabeth of Saxony, 1564 © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett / Jörg P. Anders
Sandro Botticelli: Dante and Vergil in the Eighth Circle of Hell (Inferno XVIII), after ca. 1480–1495 © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett / Philipp Allard
Albrecht Dürer: Barbara Dürer, née Holper, 1514 © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett / Jörg P. Anders
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: Houses in Islen, with a view of the church in Frauenkirch, 1926 © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett / Jörg P. Anders
The Kupferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings) is home to one of the largest and most important collections of art on paper and parchment – ranging in date from the beginnings of European art in the Middle Ages up to the present day. This enormous temporal scope is also reflected in the great diversity of artistic materials and drawing and printmaking techniques applied in the works’ making.
The conservation department is ultimately responsible for the long-term preservation of this stunning collection. The conservators are entrusted with preserving the artworks for present and future use, the proper housing; the documentation of their condition, and, if necessary, with carrying out conservation treatments. This is done at the highest technical level and with the utmost care whilst applying and developing the latest scientific standards.
Works of art on paper and parchment are extremely sensitive to light exposure and changing climate. Accordingly particular care has to be taken during exhibitions and loans. The conservators protect the works by strictly controlling light and environmental conditions, as well as through specially designed mounts. Further, detailed condition reports and appropriate framing of the artworks are part of their preparation for the intense national and international loan traffic. Special focuses in collections care include drawings and prints by old masters, bound manuscripts dating from the Middle Ages up to the 16th century, and contemporary works of art on paper.
Thanks to their art-technological studies and research projects, the conservators have made the Kupferstichkabinett to a centre of expertise for the conservation of art on paper. For old master prints and drawings, the conservation department maintains and continuously updates a watermark library that is of great value to research into the history of papermaking and the dating of art on paper.
The conservation department also provides training to interns and post-graduate trainees (German: 'Volontariat'). It supports university programmes in educating and supervising students working on their diploma or master’s dissertations.