With over 12 million photographs, the bpk-Bildarchiv owns one of the most significant historical photo collections, in which there are more than 150 photographic estates of well-known press photographers. The archive focusses on historical and political topics from antiquity to the 1990s, global geography, the topography of Berlin, portraits of important people, science and technology, everyday life, and art and culture.
The bpk-Bildarchiv aims to preserve the historical legacy of analogue photography, make its content accessible, and digitally available when possible. All original photos are kept in the repository of the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin-Friedrichshagen and can be accessed for academic research upon request.
The founding of Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz (bpk)
Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz (bpk) was founded in 1966 with the acquisition of the historical Handke archive by the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, an institution belonging to the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz.
The collection of the Handke archive consists of around 1 million images. The archive concentrated on historical images from the early stages of photography up to 1920, a collection of portrait photography, a collection of approx. 800 original engravings, historical newspapers and magazines, and large-scale illustrations from the 16th century to the present.
The executive board of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz continued to manage the Handke archive as an agency and decided that the bpk-Bildarchiv was to cover all its expenses with the revenues gained by marketing its images.
The income was to cover operating, preservation, and development costs as well as the expansion of the archive.
Over the years certain publishing archives, collections, and many images by well-known photographers were either acquired or donated so that the bpk-Bildarchiv comprises more than 12 million images today.
Der umfangreiche Bestand des bpk-Bildarchivs umfasst Fotografien von den 1840er Jahren bis in die 1990er Jahre. Zu den zahlreichen Sondersammlungen gehören frühe Fotografien (z.B. Daguerreotypien, Ambrotypien und Talbotypien), Stereobilder, Albumin-Fotos, Fotochrome, Fotoalben, Glasplatten, Originalabzüge und -negative.
About 80 percent of the collection is unique photo material from photographic estates of the early years of photography. Here is an overview of the photographic collections.
bpk / Gustav Oehme
bpk / Warren De la Rue
bpk / Kunstbibliothek, SMB, Photothek Willy Römer / Willy Römer
bpk / Heinrich Hoffmann
bpk / Interflug-Luftbildarchiv