Approximately €40,000 Grant for the Preservation of “Schriftkunst”: Collection of the Kunstbibliothek


The Staatliche Museen’s Kunstbibliothek is receiving approximately €40,000 for the restoration and conservation of a collection of Schriftkunst (textual art), as part of a model project of the Koordinierungsstelle für den Erhalt des schriftlichen Kulturguts (KEK). The fund will be supplemented by the museum’s own resources.

The Schriftkunst holdings of the Kunstbibliothek were compiled between 1880 and 1930. An exemplary collection of typography, calligraphy, and script typeface, the collection comprises examples of writing as a form of artistic expression. Due to conservation efforts, study of the objects is in most cases no longer permitted; notwithstanding, the collection is still intended for research and teaching today, in particular for the visual-communication studies programme.

Joachim Brand, director of the Kunstbibliothek, explains: ‘The years of intensive use are witnessed by the collection: smudges, tears, and blemishes are but a few of the resulting damages. The manuscript materials, as well as the writing and painting media, have also suffered from outdated mounting techniques. The restoration will make the collection permanently accessible again.’

The Schriftkunst holdings pre-eminently include rare, handwritten unique objects: from Carolingian minuscules to samples of 20th century calligraphy from diverse societies, among them excellent examples of Islamic calligraphy. There are also many examples of script letters in unusual formats, such as excised initials and pages from medieval manuscripts, as well as script examples on deeds, certificates of apprenticeship, album leaves, and Wandsprüche (wall sayings). They display an unusually wide variety of material use and applied techniques: parchment, paper, ink, coloured pigment, gold leaf, collage, woodcut, drawing, letterpress printing, and much more.

As part of the project, a portion of these diverse objects will be restored in such a way that the cause of the damages will be removed, mechanical damages will be repaired, and, through the application of new materials, accelerated chemical decomposition will be prevented. Independent of the model project, numerous additional objects from the holdings will receive conservation and restoration treatment. A digitization is also planned.