Digitising the historic exhibition catalogues and presenting them online

Project duration: January 2019 – December 2019

For many years, the art exhibitions held from 1786 to 1943 by the Prussian Akademie der Künste were a leading medium in Berlin's art and cultural life, recognised and acclaimed across Germany. Such exhibitions offered Berlin's artists, as well as those from outside the city, an initial opportunity to show and sell their works. These regular exhibitions facilitated a first-hand comparison of the art works on show and, as a social meeting point, offered an open and critical forum where artists, the art world and the general public could meet directly. Since 1786, the exhibitions and associated events have been documented in catalogues. These very rare catalogues contain exact details on the participating artists as well as the works exhibited and on sale. In some cases, they also contain a chronology of the Academy. They are today an outstanding and much utilised resource on Berlin's art scene and cultural life, especially for research into the provenance and history of art works.
The project involves the digitisation and online presentation of 216 exhibition catalogues from 1786 to 1943 which describe an estimated 80,000 works by around 12,000 artists. The digitised materials are to be published in cooperation with the University Library Heidelberg on heidiCON - digital and interdisciplinary object and multimedia repository.
Using OCR, the texts are to be prepared to enable a full-text search in all the catalogues. In addition, a complete digital index of all artists' names is in preparation to allow targeted access to the individual catalogue entries.
The project funded by digiS is part of a larger project designed to create the research portal Die Preußische Akademie der Künste. Künstler – Werke – (F)Akten (“Prussian Akademie der Künste. Artists – Works – Facts and Files”). The results of this subproject can be searched in the OPAC: To the hit list. A bibliographic overview of all digitized existing Prussian exhibition catalogues gives the complete list as well as an overview by series.

Project management: Werner Heegewaldt, Susanne Nagel

Funded by digiS (Forschungs- und Kompetenzzentrum Digitalisierung Berlin), in cooperation with University Library Heidelberg Electronic Publishing – Open Access, and the Senate Department for Culture and Europe