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Warburg Institute

WARBURG, Aby M , the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg and the Warburg Institute: personal papers and administrative records


Reference code(s): GB 1370 WIA, Aby M Warburg

Held at: Warburg Institute

Title: WARBURG, Aby M , the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg and the Warburg Institute: personal papers and administrative records

Date(s): 1866-2000

Level of description: collection

Extent: c250 boxes

Name of creator(s): Warburg | Aby Moritz | 1866-1929 | art and cultural historian
Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg x Warburg Institute


Administrative/Biographical history:

Aby Moritz Warburg was born in Hamburg, 1866 to a wealthy banking family; instead of entering the family business, he devoted himself to the academic study of art, European civilization and the classical tradition; studied in Bonn, Munich, and in Strasbourg, focusing on archeology and art history; worked in Florence producing studies on single works of art and their wealthy patrons; spent time on the Hopi Indians conducting an ethnological study, 1896; founded the Kultur-wissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg (KBW), to serve both as a private collection and as a resource for public education, 1921; visited the United States to document the Native Americans and their mystic traditions using photographs and text; hospitalized, 1921-1924; worked at the KBW, 1924-1929; died 1929.

The Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg grew out of the personal library of Aby Warburg. In 1921, with the help of Fritz Saxl, the library became a research institution in cultural history, and a centre for lectures and publications, affiliated to the University of Hamburg. After Warburg's death in 1929, the further development of the Institute was guided by Saxl. In 1934, under the shadow of Nazism, the institute was relocated from Hamburg to London. It was installed in Thames House in 1934, moving to the Imperial Institute Buildings, South Kensington, in 1937. In 1944 it became associated with the University of London, and in 1994 it became a founding institute of the University of London's School of Advanced Study.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers created and collected privately by Aby Moritz Warburg and members of his family, and administrative records of the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg and its successor institution, the Warburg Institute, 1866-2000. Including records of the history of the Warburg Institute from the beginnings of Aby Warburg's private library to the present day in sections under the following headings: Buildings; Administration; Organization and Activities of the Library / Institute; Annual Reports; Visitors' and Address Books; Accession Books; Account Books and 'Scrap' Book. Personal documents and working papers of Aby Warburg, including his bibliographical notes, notebooks, diaries and journals, drafts of lectures and articles; poems and dramatic sketches. Topics covered include: Contemporary Art; Hamburg University; Early Renaissance and Florentine Art and Patronage: Botticelli, Leonardo, Ghirlandaio, Sassetti; Flemish Art; Transformation of Style; Festivals; Psychology of Art; Pueblo Indians; Art and Astrology in Italy and the North: Palazzo Schifanoia, Luther and the Art of the Reformation, Dürer; Rembrandt; Cosmology; Postage Stamps; 'Mnemosyne-Atlas'. Papers collected by Aby Warburg on the following topics: Hamburg University; Hamburg City Affairs; Hamburg Institutions; Art Historical and other Congresses; Kunsthistorisches Institut (Florenz); First World War and Aftermath and Universities. Photographic Material including negatives and prints.


Language/scripts of material: German, English, French and Italian.

System of arrangement:

Divided in broad classes (WIA, I - WIA, IV) according to the nature and provenance of the material. I: Records of the history of the Warburg Institute: Buildings, Administration, Organization and activities of the library and Institute; II Warburgiana (Photographic Material); III Working Papers of Aby Warburg; IV Warburg Papers (Material collected by Warburg); V: Photographs of the family, related scholars and the Institute.

Conditions governing access:

Archive material is accessible for the purpose of private study and personal research and within the supervised environment and restrictions of the Archive reading room. Access is with permission from the Institute Director and by prior appointment only. Potential users are advised to browse the Institute website and contact the Archivist, Dr des Claudia Wedepohl, before planning a visit. Access to individual items in the Warburg Institute Archives may be restricted under the Data Protection Act or the Freedom of Information Act.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Finding aids:

Catalogue available on-line at the University of London Research Services website



Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited by the family.



Archivist's note: Entry compiled by Sarah Drewery.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: Apr 2008

Art history | Art theory | Arts
Festivals | Cultural events | Leisure time activities | Leisure
Reformation | Religious conflicts | Religion
Spiritualism | Mysticism
Universities | Higher education institutions | Educational institutions
War | International conflicts
World War One (1914-1918) | World wars (events) | Wars (events)

Personal names
Warburg | Aby Moritz | 1866-1929 | art and cultural historian

Corporate names
Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg x Warburg Institute
University of Hamburg x Hamburg University

Hamburg | Germany | Western Europe | Europe
Italy | Western Europe | Europe