The Prussian Cultural Properties Foundation and Artstor Inc. announced today that they had reached an agreement to collaborate on the distribution through Artstor of approximately 7,000 high quality digital images of sculptures from the Berlin State Museums.

The Berlin State Museums (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin) represent the result of centuries of collecting. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the holdings increased enormously through generous donations, through archaeological fieldwork and through sponsored ethnological expeditions. Today the national museums in Berlin consist of sixteen museums, each with its own special area of competence. Despite the losses suffered between 1933 and 1945, most collections rank high among the major museums of the world.

This collaboration between Artstor and the Prussian Cultural Properties Foundation will make a carefully curated selection of many of the most important objects from this rich body of visual material and related scholarship available to scholars, students, and curators electronically for the first time. The collaboration will focus on two museum collections. One project will focus on the unique collection of Greek, Hellenistic and Roman sculptures in the great Collection of Classical Antiquities, housed at the Pergamon Museum and on the first floor of the Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s landmark Altes Museum. A second project will be devoted to the important collections of the Museum of Ethnology. With over 500,000 artifacts from all over the world, the Museum of Ethnology is one of the largest and most important of its kind. It is devoted above all to the collection, preservation and study of the cultural artifacts of pre-industrial societies, especially those outside Europe. The present project will focus on the museum’s important African and Northwest Coast Native American collections, assembled and richly documented at a critical early juncture in the history of ethnological collecting and research. The museums’ curator will coordinate the selection of objects of greatest value to scholars and teachers for digitization. The Institute for Museum Research, an institution with nationwide responsibility for research and documentation, focusing also on all aspects of Museum studies across the various collections of the Berlin State Museums, will play a coordinating role in this partnership with Artstor.

In reaching this agreement, Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, President of the Prussian Cultural Properties Foundation, and James Shulman, Executive Director of Artstor, expressed their joint enthusiasm in collaborating to use digital technologies to make these important artistic and scholarly resources more broadly available for noncommercial pedagogical and scholarly purposes. “The Berlin State Museums have always been exceptionally significant places for scientific research and collection building. The modern possibilities of digital technology expand greatly on this potential and allow us not only to present these treasures, but also to link this effort with other important organizations, such as Artstor, to a degree previously unimaginable,” said Klaus-Dieter Lehmann. James Shulman comments, “This important partnership with the Berlin State Museums within the Prussian Cultural Properties Foundation will produce an exceptionally significant resource for scholars, teachers and students. Artstor is especially delighted to be part of this international collaboration. The coordination between the museums and libraries in Berlin – and the extent to which they are pursuing collaborative ventures both with universities and with other cultural organizations across Europe make them extraordinary partners for Artstor.”

The Prussian Cultural Properties Foundation is one of the world’s major cultural organizations. It embraces the sixteen national museums in Berlin as well as the State Library, State Archive and a number of research institutes, all with their origins in the collections and archives of the former State of Prussia. All are uniquely linked to form an integrated network for the exchange of cultural heritage objects and documentation.