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Warburg Institute

WARBURG, Aby, the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg and the Warburg Institute : General correspondence


Reference code(s): GB 1370 WIA, GC

Held at: Warburg Institute

Title: WARBURG, Aby, the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg and the Warburg Institute : General correspondence

Date(s): 1886-1990

Level of description: collection

Extent: c 1200 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 civilisation 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; hospitalised,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:

General correspondence of Aby Warburg, the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg and the Warburg Institute, 1886-1990.


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

System of arrangement:

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:

Photocopies, at the discretion of the archivist, may be provided for research use only (working papers: up to 10% of any archive pressmark; correspondence by authors for whom the department doesn't hold copyright: up to 10% of the Institute's holdings). Traditional photography is allowed at the discretion of the archivist, no digital cameras. Scans and digital photographs can be ordered at the discretion of the archivist. Requests to publish original material have to be submitted to the Archivist.

Finding aids:

A database containing c 28,000 abstracts of letters (covering dates up to and including 1929) is available for consultation in the Institute Archive; contact Archive staff for details.



Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:



Related material:

For family correspondence, see WIA, FC. See also Aby Warburg's working papers: WIA, III.


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

Cultural anthropology
Cultural education

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

Corporate names
Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg x Warburg Institute