One of the most important tasks of any collection of international stature is the systematic examination of its own holdings. Such a collection’s social relevance and its significance in the public discourse are only guaranteed as long as they are underpinned by stimulating scholarly analysis. A prerequisite for this is the critical collection catalogue, which is compiled by the curators in collaboration with the collection’s conservators.
An appreciation of the plastic arts is crucially informed by an awareness of the context in which sculptures were originally displayed. This subsequently requires the close cooperation of various other institutions. For a deeper understanding of original works of architectural sculpture, art historians must naturally turn to the fields of architectural conservation and historic building research. But beyond this, the degree of collaboration at the Skulpturensammlung with the sciences and with engineering has also set new standards in recent years.
In addition to work on the collection catalogue, scholars are also active in other areas of research. Suites of works or individual objects in the collection are highlighted and examined from a variety of perspectives as part of the preparations surrounding rotating exhibitions, individual publications, and, no less importantly, scholarly colloquia.
The collection also supports other institutions across the Staatliche Museen and beyond by providing them with loans, albeit only when the works in question are in an adequate state of preservation and when the exhibition concept seems viable. Handling such loan requests often requires the thorough and continual re-examination of our own holdings.
Thanks to a competently managed image archive, the Skulpturensammlung is able to supply researchers, publishers, and media representatives with photographic images of its works – for only that way are we able to sustain a keen interest in our collection. To do full justice to the brilliance of the works, such reproductions naturally have to be of the highest technical quality.
Documenting the effects of the war on the collection remains an essential part of researchers’ work. On the one hand this concerns those objects currently held at the museum – for in many cases the full extent and nature of damage suffered by these works as a consequence of the war has yet to be sufficiently assessed. But this area of activity also encompasses all those works that are known to have been lost or are deemed lost. Only in-depth knowledge and the maintaining of collegial ties in Germany and abroad promise to deliver tangible results in this sensitive area. The meticulous documentation of losses is a key task, not only for scholarship and learning, but also, and most importantly, for the cultural identity of our society.
The Museum für Byzantinische Kunst is the only collection of its specific kind in Germany. In the last few years it has evolved into one of Germany’s leading non-academic research centres specializing in late-antique and Byzantine art. Core research areas are studies on late-antique textiles, sarcophagus reliefs, early Byzantine architecture, and architectural ornament from Asia Minor.