The photographic archive of the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte is one of the largest photographic study collections on European art history and has over 900,000 media units, sorted by section. Among them is the Topography section, which contains photographs on architecture and urban planning. The collection on the city of Berlin holds well over 6,000 images. Here are some highlights that give an impression of the diversity of buildings, photographers and periods.
From an art historical point of view, the historical images of partially destroyed churches and their furnishings are of great importance. The metropolis of Berlin, as a center of diversity, offers examples of different denominations, architectural styles and periods.
Before the Progromnacht in 1938, there were numerous synagogues in Berlin, such as on Fasanenstrasse, Levetzowstrasse or Pestalozzistrasse. The photographs show these Jewish places of worship and the life of the Jewish community.
Urban traffic has always shaped life in the metropolis. Whether as a pedestrian, by train, car or on the canal - Berlin is constantly on the move.
The factories at the Berlin sites of Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft (AEG), founded in 1888, are important testimonies to urban industrial culture around 1900. The collection features iconic buildings by Peter Behrens as well as Germany's first subway tunnel.
In the 1910s to 1930s, architects such as Bruno Taut, the Luckhardt brothers and Walter Gropius designed residential and commercial buildings with clear, functional forms under the term Neues Bauen. Immediately at the time of their creation, they were captured photographically.
The collection features around 50 interior photographs by photographer Lotte Jacobi, which offer a glimpse into the apartments of Berlin's high society and illustrate cultural life in the capital during the 1930s.
During World War II, Berlin, like many European cities, was severely destroyed. Photographs from the collection impressively testify to the lost heritage and everyday life in the aftermath and during the reconstruction period.
The former Berlin Palace
The baroque building, built around 1700, was demolished after heavy damage during the Second World War. Numerous pictures testify to the former grandeur of the historic building. In 2020, the Humboldt Forum opened its doors in its place with a reconstructed facade.
The ensemble of buildings was commissioned by the Prussian kings between 1830 and 1930 and is, then as now, one of the most important cultural places for every visitor to Berlin.
Film and Theater Metropolis
Whether it's the Staatsoper unter den Linden, the Schauspielhaus, the Schiller Theater or the Volksbühne - numerous stages and film theaters are and have been part of Berlin's vibrant cultural scene.
All photographs from the photographic archive of the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte Munich
Concept & Text: Nadine Raddatz and Sonja Hull