The Inventory Logs of the Museum für Islamische Kunst

Between 1904 and 2014, the Museum für Islamische Kunst documented its acquisitions and donations, along with artefacts that were transferred from other collections, in seven hand-written inventory logs. Since 2014, the inventories of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin have been maintained with the museum’s digital documentation system.

The following information is so far only available in German. A translation into English is in progress.

Inventar I. 1-I. 1650 (PDF, 196 MB)
Nachweiszeitraum der Zugänge 1891-1911 (Inventar I. 1-I. 1650)

Inventar I. 1651-I. 3400 (PDF, 189 MB)
Nachweiszeitraum der Zugänge 1911-1920 (Inventar I. 1651-I. 3400)

Inventar I. 3401-I. 4900 (PDF, 150 MB)
Nachweiszeitraum der Zugänge 1921-1927 (Inventar I. 3401-I. 4901)

Inventar I. 4901-I. 6350 (PDF, 146 MB)
Nachweiszeitraum der Zugänge 1926-1936 (Inventar I. 4902-I. 6350)

Inventar I. 6351-I. 7755 (PDF, 144 MB)
Nachweiszeitraum der Zugänge 1935-1988 (Inventar I. 6351-I. 7755)

Inventar I. 7756-I. 9196 (PDF, 155 MB)
Nachweiszeitraum der Zugänge 1988-2013 (Inventar I. 7756-I. 9196)

Inventar der Kunstwerke 1955-1999 (PDF, 195 MB)
Nachweiszeitraum der Zugänge 1955-1999 (Lfd.-Nr. I. 1/55 – I. 1999.3)

 

The call numbers of objects belonging to the collection of the Museum für Islamische Kunst begin with the letter “I.”, and are mostly numbered consecutively. Groups of artefacts uncovered in excavations in Samarra, Ctesiphon, Tabgha, Takht-e Soleymān, along with survey finds and objects whose designations are made according to different systems of nomenclature are not recorded in the inventory logs.

Even in the way the inventory logs are maintained, a sense of the eventful history of the Museum für Islamische Kunst can be gleaned. While from 1954 onwards, the historical inventory logs continued to be used at the Islamisches Museum in the Pergamonmuseum, the Museum für Islamische Kunst in Dahlem kept its own inventory from 1954 to 1999, with its own numbering system (I. 1/55–I. 1999.3). With the reopening of the Museum für Islamische Kunst in the Pergamonmuseum in 2000/2001, the Dahlem inventory was abandoned, and the cataloguing was continued in the logs of the former Islamisches Museum.    

All the inventory logs of the Museum für Islamische Kunst follow the same documentation system: in addition to the inventory number, the object is described briefly, its dimensions noted, and in some cases, a photo or sketch is included. The circumstances of the acquisition are noted as comprehensively as possible, including the date of acquisition and the price paid, as well as the previous owner. Additional information is recorded about references to the object in other documentation or in literary or visual sources.  

The different handwriting and writing materials make it clear that the inventory logs were maintained by various individuals. It is also evident that they are living documents that have been around for a very long time, with corrections and additional information, as well as notes about relocations and losses.

The inventory logs of the Museum für Islamische Kunst are unique testaments to the collecting history and provenance of the holdings of the museum, and are now available to the broader public.