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Kulturforum in Berlin-Tiergarten
© visitberlin, Foto: Wolfgang Scholvien

Kunstbibliothek (Art library)

Experience the history of civilisation at three locations

Research and education; with this concept the Kunstbibliothek Berlin showcases more than a million works - making it one of the largest library museums worldwide. The collection presents books and artefacts that cover the fields of art, media and the cultural sciences. Spread across eight libraries in three locations, you will find a comprehensive collection of books, drawings, photographs, prints and costumes amongst many others pieces. Here, you can enjoy a journey through the eras of art history with a wide range of information about important artwork and literature from around the world.

The Deutsches Gewerbe-Museum and the birth of the Kunstbibliothek

In 1867, the Deutsches Gewerbe-Museum is founded as a teaching institute and public museum. The opening of the library follows a year later, and together they aim to further the knowledge of historic styles, techniques, materials, and traditional methods of artists and artisans. 1881 marks the opening of the Kunstgewerbemuseum's new building, now called the Martin-Gropius-Bau. Shortly after, in 1904, the library moves into an extension because of space restrictions, and from 1924 onwards, it functions as art library.
In 1994, the newly created Kulturforum provides a fresh home for the Kunstbibliothek and displays its collections of architecture, media, book and media art, photography, fashion and graphic design.

The library is further extended in 2004 with the opening of the Museum für Fotografie, and again in 2012 when the Archäologische Zentrum becomes part of the larger complex. Here you will find the Lipperheidesche Kostümbibliothek, Sammlung der Plakat- und Reklamekunst, the Gebrauchsgraphische Sammlung, Sammlung Buchkunst and the Sammlung Fotografie. The Kulturforum building also hosts the Kunstwissenschaftliche Bibliothek which focuses on the history of art and media in the western world. Discover the large Sammlung Buch- und Medienkunst housed within these striking red brick buildings, and delve into 13,000 artist books, records, films and printed media from the 20th and 21st century. Additionally, the Sammlung Grafik-Design, with its collection Modebild, is one of the largest historic fashion and costume archives ever assembled. The Kunstbibliothek organises up to 10 exhibitions a year and offers a programme of lectures, symposia and workshops.

Highlights of the Kunstbibliothek

  • 2000 art books including works from the Baroque period.
  • Collection of 35,000 architecture drawings dated as far back as the 15th century.
  • Lipperheidesche Kostümbibliothek: clothing and fashion from antiquity to the present.
  • Collection of graphic design works with around 10,000 advertisements and 60,000 posters.
  • Ornamental prints with approximately 12,000 single sheets, engravings, and books.

Places of interest near the Kunstbibliothek in Berlin

Just a minutes' walk from the library sits the Kunstgewerbemuseum, providing 7,000 square metres of exhibition space featuring European craft work from the Middle Ages to the present day. Among this collection you can find medieval works, alongside pieces from the Baroque and Classical periods. In addition to this, a collection devoted to 150 years of fashion history brings together pieces from famous designers such as Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Elsa Schiaparelli and Christian Dior.
The Kunstbibliothek is also located in the same building as the Kupferstichkabinett, which showcases one of the most important graphics collections in the world. Here, 110,000 hand-made drawings and approximately 550,000 prints from artists such as Botticelli, Munch, Picasso and Beuys can be viewed.

Our tips for visitors to the Kunstbibliothek

Bus lines M48 or 200 provide the best links to the Kunstbibliothek. From these stops the Kulturforum and Berliner Philharmoniker are within walking distance. If you have a Museumspass, entrance is free.


Opening hours

Tuesday 10:00 – 18:00
Wednesday 10:00 – 18:00
Thursday 10:00 – 18:00
Friday 10:00 – 18:00
Saturday 11:00 – 18:00
Sunday 11:00 – 18:00