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BMBF Research Project: Schinkel’s Legacy – From Museum Storage into the Discourse

The subject of the research project Das Erbe Schinkels – Vom Depot in den Diskurs (Schinkel’s Legacy – From Museum Storage into the Discourse), funded by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF, Federal Ministry of Education and Research) was the artistic legacy of architect, draughtsman, painter and designer Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781–1841) in the Berlin Kupferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings). It comprises some 5,500 watercolours, drawings, sketchbooks and prints.

The first task consisted of the art historical research of the collection and set itself the goal of making Schinkel’s legacy publicly accessible to experts and non-specialists alike through the use of innovative digitalisation and cataloguing technologies, as well the contemporary publication of the project findings in an online catalogue. A second focus was the examination of the works using art technological methods, which resulted in a systematic dataacquisition of Schinkel’s drawing and painting materials as well as his papers and their watermarks.

Another important objective was to develop an optimised storage system for the collection because the previous approach had acutely endangered the works. The primary focus was to carry out research on the emission and damaging effect of volatile compounds released from furnishing, exhibition and storage materials as well as from the objects themselves. The evaluation of the research findings resulted in a new storage system that ensures (?) the long-term preservation of the artworks, minimises the concentration of volatile pollutants and also satisfies the museum’s requirements regarding space-saving accommodation, cost-effective implementation andeasy handling.

The major special exhibition Karl Friedrich Schinkel. History and Poetry represented the culmination of the project. It was on view at the Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (7 September 2012 – 6 January 2013) and subsequently at the Kunsthalle of the Hypo Cultural Foundation in Munich (1 February 2013 – 12 May 2013). The findings of the art historical and conservation research were made available to a broad public via an exhibition, a catalogue, several specialist articles, a dissertation and the database.

Project team: Prof. Dr. Hein-Th. Schulze Altcappenberg (project manager), Dr. Rolf Johannsen (art history and theory), Dr. Dipl. Rest. Fabienne Meyer, Anna Schulz MA (project support)
Contact at the Kupferstichkabinett: Dr. Anna Pfäfflin, Dr. Dipl. Rest. Fabienne Meyer
Funding: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)
Project partners: Material Testing Institute Stuttgart, Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU), Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research, Braunschweig
Duration: 2009 to 2012
Publications (selection):
Hein-Th. Schulze Altcappenberg, Rolf H. Johannsen and Christiane Lange (eds.), Karl Friedrich Schinkel – Geschichte und Poesie. Exhibition catalogue, Hirmer Verlag, Munich;
Hein-Th. Schulze Altcappenberg, Rolf H. Johannsen (eds.), Karl Friedrich Schinkel – Geschichte und Poesie: Das Studienbuch. Deutscher Kunstverlag, Berlin, 2012;
Fabienne Meyer, Flüchtige organische Verbindungen in Graphischen Sammlungen – Eine Bewertung unter Bezugnahme auf die Sammlung Karl Friedrich Schinkel am Kupferstichkabinett Berlin, dissertation, Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart;
Fabienne Meyer, Georg Josef Dietz, Systematik zur Beschreibung, Eingabe und Verarbeitung kunsttechnologischer Informationen für Zeichnungen auf Papier in Datenbanken