Welcome to the virtual tour of the exhibition space at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin! Around 300 exhibits from the Staatsbibliothek are on display, including precious objects such as the Mass in B minor by Johann Sebastian Bach and the Gutenberg Bible. Our digital guide will offer you a selection of topics and exhibits with detailed information. You can either be guided virtually through the exhibition on the spot or enjoy the virtual tour from the comfort of your home. Many of our manuscripts and books on display can be fully viewed and read in our digital collections using the links and QR codes provided by the museum.
Your Visit to the Stabi Kulturwerk
Tue-Sun 10 am – 6 pm
Thu 10 am – 8 pm
How to get here
Unter den Linden 8
/// Special opening hours for the Holidays ///
On 27.12., 28.12., 29.12. and 30.12.2022: 10 am – 5 pm
Closed on 24.12., 25.12., 26.12. and 31.12.2022 as well as 1.1.2023.
Guided Tours — Highlights of the Permanent Exhibition
We offer free guided tours every Thursday at 4:30 pm (in German).
Special: An English-language guided tour takes place on Thursday, 12. January 2023 at 5:30 pm.
Please sign up in advance.
Expert Guided Tours in the Kulturwerk (in German)
Specialists from the departments of the Staatsbibliothek involved in the curation of the permanent exhibition share their expert knowledge with you as part of this new programme.
Join us on a thematic tour of the Kulturwerk and learn first-hand about special objects and the stories behind them.
13.12.2022, 4:30 pm: Expert Tour “Music” – Jean Christophe Gero, Head of Unit in the Music Department
29.12.2022, 3:30 pm: Expert Tour “Children’s Books” – Carola Pohlmann, Head of the Children’s and Young People’s Book Department
25.01.2023, 4:30 pm: Expert Tour “Music” – Jean Christophe Gero, Head of Unit in the Music Department
26.01.2023, 5:30 pm: Expert Tour “Children’s Books” – Carola Pohlmann, Head of the Children’s and Young People’s Book Department
»MANUSCRIPTA AMERICANA: Fragments of the Aztec Legacy«
7. December 2022 – 26. February 2023 at Stabi Kulturwerk
What does Indigenous pictographic writing, from twisted grass to serpent throats, reveal about life in colonised Mexico? The special exhibition MANUSCRIPTA AMERICANA: Fragments of the Aztec Legacy recounts everyday experiences and social structures during the Aztec era, describes exploitation by and resistance to colonial rulers, and shows the transcultural negotiation processes between Indigenous and European cultures during the early colonial period in 16th century Mexico.
The pictorial manuscripts on display are from a collection initiated by Alexander von Humboldt. The oldest fragment – around 500 years old and more than four metres long – documents tributes that the Aztecs demanded from other kingdoms they had conquered. Today, the original Manuscripta americana are divided between two locations: the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin and the Jagiellonian Library in Kraków. The exhibition supplements the Berlin manuscripts with virtual views of their Kraków counterparts and also demonstrates how scientific research techniques can help with deciphering centuries-old pictographic texts.
You can download the exhibition catalogue here (free of charge).
Guided tours around the special exhibition with exhibition curator Dr Angelika Danielewski (in German)
Thursdays at 5:30 pm on the following dates:
8. / 15. / 22. December 2022
5. / 12. / 19. / 26. January 2023
2. / 9. / 16. / 23. February 2023
Free of charge – please sign up in advance here.
Overview of the exhibition sections
From the Baroque Cabinet of Curiosities
to the Königliche Bibliothek (1661–1810)
When in 1661 the Churfürstliche Bibliothek was opened in the apothecary wing of the Berlin Palace, the most important private book collection of Electoral Brandenburg became publicly accessible in a baroque cabinet of curiosities. It was presented to a – however limited –learned audience from higher ranks in society. Since 1701 referred to as Königliche Bibliothek, the library always depended on the interests and benevolence of the respective ruler. Thus the founder of the library, Friedrich Wilhelm,the Great Elector (1620–1688), established a universal collection of considerable non-European holdings. In the 18th century, when science and culture prospered in the Prussia of Friedrich II., the Great (1712–1786), ‘his’ library as well benefitted from this development: for the first time, a separate building was constructed for the library.
The Königliche Bibliothek in Alliance
with Science and Culture in Berlin (1810–1870)
At the beginning of the 19th century, parlour culture was a new phenomenon in Berlin. The parlours offered a possibilty to exchange ideas on intellectual and scientific topics, especially in the field of literature and music. The milieu was no longer feudal but bourgeois. The princely library became an important institution for science and research with a close relationship with the newly founded university in Berlin and other institutions, whose collections were well catalogued according to scientific standards. Important researchers, such as the Brothers Humboldt and the Brothers Grimm, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Theodor Mommsen and Leopold von Ranke, lived and worked in Berlin.
The Library from the German Empire
to the End of World War II (1871–1945)
In the period of the German Empire (1871–1914) the Königliche Bibliothek reached the peak of its development. It was planned to dynamically develop the library and make it a ‘Reichsbibliothek’, the most important institution of its kind in Germany. Large and remarkable collections were either purchased or came to the library thanks to the support of patrons. Print holdings were greatly expanded, also in hitherto rather neglected subjects such as engineering and natural sciences. Numerous cross-regional projects were initiated. In 1914, the Emperor inaugurated an impressive new library building.
The extensive collections of the institution, called Preußische Staatsbibliothek since 1918, reflect World War I as well as avant-garde currents of the Weimar Republic. During National Socialism, the library was the scene of anti-Jewish actions of the Nazi State and during World War II the library reached the lowest point in its history, due to evacuations and destruction.
The Library during
the Division of Germany (1945–1991)
After 1945 the Division of Germany and the Cold War influenced the library like hardly any other institution of its kind. As a result two libraries developed: the one in the Federal Republic was initially called Hessische Bibliothek, then Westdeutsche Bibliothek and was located in Marburg. Since 1962 this library, called Staatsbibliothek, has been a member institution of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz and it moved into a spectacular new building in Berlin (West). The library in the GDR, located in Berlin (East), was first called Öffentliche Wissenschaftliche Bibliothek, until in 1954 it was renamed Deutsche Staatsbibliothek. In 1992, the two state libraries were merged into one library called Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz. The creation of new special departements and the collections of both institutions reflect the different political developments in this period.
in the Present and in the Future
The Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz ranks among the most important libraries in the world and is a centre of national and international literature provision. Alongside the acquisition of current printed and electronic materials, the historical collections are constantly expanded. The library’s profile focuses on the humanities, cultural and social sciences as well as on the collection foci and special information services funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation). Being a member of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Sammlung Deutscher Drucke, the Staatsbibliothek is responsible for tasks of a national library. By developing its services, the library promotes the worldwide use of its services and offers. It is systematically expanding user and information services both on site and online. Via digital networks the library provides to everyone interested access to knowledge relevant to research and cultural heritage.