| Klaus Tscharnke |
NUREMBERG, Germany (dpa) – For a long time the historical photo collection of the German Art Archive was a hard-to-access treasure. The archive is the largest collection of primary documentation relating to German art and culture.
It collects personal papers from painters, graphic artists, sculptors, photographers, architects, art historians, art dealers and art collectors.
Anyone wanting to search through old portraits, studio photos or family pictures of German-speaking artists had to go into the basement of the Germanic National Museum (GNM) in Nuremberg and work their way through archive boxes.
Stored there are almost 1,400 letters and private documents, but art historians kept coming across photos by surprise.
The archive now plans to put the 4,000 photos online in spring 2015. Already 450 are on display in a virtual exhibition to mark the 50th anniversary of the art archive.
The impetus for the digitisation has been a joint project of the Leibniz Community.
Since 2012 nine German museums and archives have been scanning photos of significant people in various areas of expertise.
Up to 33,000 photos have been posted on the internet under the “DigiPortA” project – a treasure trove for anyone looking for faces as part of a research project.
The head of the German Art Archive, Birgit Jooss, was amazed by the finds.
As well as classical portraits and studio photos, there are pictures that give an insight into the private lives of the artists.
“For example several photos show the wives of artists, about whom we know little else. Thanks to this project they finally get a face.”
There are images of the artists at festivals and parties, travelling or as soldiers during wartime.
It is hoped the photos will aid art history researchers and also that the wider dissemination of the images will help identify unknown people in the pictures.