German Art Archive in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum

Logo German Art Archive in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum

Deutsches Kunstarchiv im Germanischen Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg

Kornmarkt 1

90402 Nürnberg

German Art Archive in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum

Reading room of the German Art Archive in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, NurembergReading room of the German Art Archive in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, NurembergPhotograph: Monika Runge © Germanisches Nationalmuseum

The German Art Archive is the largest archive of unpublished written material on fine art, by persons living and dead, in the German-speaking world. It was founded in 1964 as the “Archive for Fine Art” in order to collect artists’ private documents, including well-known figures such as Lovis Corinth, Otto Dix, Olaf Gulbransson, Franz Marc, Ernst Wilhelm Nay, Richard Riemerschmid and Werner Tübke. Alongside the artists, however, it is also the archive’s task to collect unpublished material and estates from art historians such as Kurt Bauch, Ludwig Grote, Gustav Hartlaub, Edwin Redslob and Wilhelm Worringer. Furthermore, estates from galleries and societies have been acquired, for example the two once-internationally renowned art dealerships – the Dresden-based gallery of Ernst Arnold and Ludwig Gutbier, and the art dealers Heinemann in Munich; the 'Kuenstlersonderbund in Deutschland' (Special Artist Guild in Germany); and the Verband Deutscher Kunsthistoriker (Association of German Art Historians). In the main, the archive collects written material such as personal documents, correspondence and records of professional and artistic life. Due to its growing significance, the archive was renamed the “German Art Archive” in 2008.

As a central research facility of the Federal Republic of Germany, the German Art Archive is not only tasked with collecting and preserving these records, but also with their scholarly investigation, answering written enquiries, taking care of archive users who visit in person, researching  and managing the inventory.

Special exhibitions in the “Works and Documents” series have been taking place since the mid-1970s, always accompanied by a catalogue. On the basis of the artwork and the written material, they show the individual character of the artist in question and the time they were working in. Since 2008 there has been a series of lectures entitled “From the German Art Archive” on new findings gained by researchers in their work in the archive.

In addition, some items in the inventory have been worked on in scientific projects. For example, the database “Galerie Heinemann Online”, which is important for provenance research, has been available on the internet since July 2010: This enables investigations on the art dealings of the Munich-based Galerie Heinemann (1872-1938), with particular focus placed on the period from 1890 to 1939, and opens up information on around 43,500 significant paintings from all epochs, with some 13,000 together with the individuals or institutions associated with their acquisition or sale.

Facts and figures

The archive encompasses 1,388 items from the 19th century to the present day, stretching over 2,800 metres of shelves as of August 2013. It comprises of genuine estates, fake estates, parts of estates, material from living persons, collections and institutional archives of painters, sculptors, architects, installation artists, photographers, art historians, art collectors, art institutions and galleries. There is, furthermore, an extensive collection of printed matter and newspaper cuttings covering fine art.