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Research projects of the Kupferstichkabinetts

With its excellent reputation for connoisseurship, its expertise and the recognition it has won in the specialist world and beyond for its contribution to research, the Kupferstichkabinett is involved in many national and international collaborative projects and networks, ranging from academic Clusters-of-Excellence programmes to projects designed to appeal directly to a broader public.

The expertise of the Kupferstichkabinett is particularly in demand for providing specialist advice to museums and academic institutions, as well as to students, scientists, collectors and members of the public at home and abroad, and for training the next generation of specialists. Its well-patronised study room affords researchers the opportunity to study artefacts at first hand. Through its generous lending programme, it also supports many other museums in their exhibition projects.

Among the Kupferstichkabinett’s key tasks is making the results of its ongoing research available, both within the academic forum and, in accessible format, to the general public, particularly through scientific publications, catalogues, online services, exhibitions, public lectures and conferences.

Main research areas

  • The artistic and cultural history of the graphic arts, both in Europe and in parts of the world linked to Europe by cross-cultural exchange
  • The development of standards for electronically cataloguing and digitising the visual heritage represented by the media of drawing, printmaking, and book-illustration (in collaboration with leading international museums, libraries and picture archives)
  • Conserving and preserving works of graphic art and their supports and making them available for public display
  • Formulating standard terminology for recording and describing art-technological characteristics

Research infrastructure


  • Approx. 25,000 books which are indispensable for research, including many which are unavailable elsewhere in Berlin (e.g., in the subject area of historical manuscript illumination; antiquarian literature on drawing, etc.), and some which are sole copies
  • A collection of historic books dating from 1460 to the 18th century. Very rare and important books from the 15th century and the first half of the 16th century, most of them illustrated and some unavailable elsewhere in Berlin. They include block books which may be sole surviving copies. Over 1,000 volumes.

Photo archive: the Gernsheim Collection (Corpus Photographicum Gernsheim)

  • Photographic documentation of every school of drawing, from many graphic collections throughout the world; some 250,000–300,000 photographs. An important research resource for visual comparison, available in Germany only in Berlin and open to the public (in the Kupferstichkabinett, with a smaller selection relating to the applied arts also available in the Kunstbibliothek).

Electronic online database