Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte Secures the Documentation on the Acquisition History of the Berlin Troy Collection of Heinrich Schliemann

29.07.2021
Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte

The Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte will carry out conservational work on archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann’s (1822–1890) documentation materials on his Collection of Trojan antiquities. With this move, these materials on the complex acquisition history of this famous collection will be safeguarded for coming generations. The project is funded by the Koordinierungsstelle für die Erhaltung des schriftlichen Kulturguts (KEK) as part of this year’s model project funding programme. The materials will then be made available to researchers and exhibitions. The Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte is preparing a major special exhibition to mark the bicentenary of the birth of Heinrich Schliemann on 6 January 2021.

Conservation Ensures the Long-Term Use of the Materials

The aim of this project is to carry out conservation work on the materials documenting the acquisition history of Heinrich Schliemann’s Collection of Trojan Antiquities, ensuring they are preserved for posterity. The documents date from the period between 1871 and 1939, and are made up almost exclusively of one-off handwritten documents related to the acquisition history of the Collection of Trojan Antiquities of the Berlin Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte. The seven volumes of documentation, comprising more than 2,700 sheets, contain the correspondence between Heinrich Schliemann and the directors and employees of Berlin’s Royal Museums, along with numerous letters from famous individuals, such as Otto von Bismarck, Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia and the doctor and prehistorian Rudolf Virchow.

These materials documents the history of one of the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte’s most extensive and fascinating collections for historians and researchers. These materials document the history of the emergence of the Schliemann Collection over a period of almost 70 years. The collection and the documentation materials should be viewed as a single whole. That these written documents have been preserved in their entirety despite the wars and the division of Germany is nothing short of remarkable. The written material, with its references to historical, cultural and legal matters, is of particular importance for research, and for retracing the relocation of parts of the collection during the war.

The seven fascicles have never undergone conservation work, and their regular use has led to significant material damage. This conservation work is necessary in order to prevent further damage, and to guarantee that the materials can continue to be used into the future.

KEK Funding

This year, the Koordinierungsstelle für die Erhaltung des schriftlichen Kulturguts (KEK) is supporting 35 model projects aimed at conserving original documents in archives and libraries. To this end, the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media (BKM) and the different state governments (through the Cultural Foundation of the German Federal States) have made available some 480,000 EUR. The programme supports model projects aimed at preserving outstanding individual pieces or sections of collections, for urgent work and skill-building activities within the institutions.

International Conference on 23 and 24 November 2021

To mark the tenth anniversary of this programme, the KEK is organising the international conference “Preservation in Perspective”, to be held on 23 and 24 November 2021 in the auditorium of the James-Simon-Galerie. The event will take place in a hybrid form, with participants able to take part online.