About the collections


Images and graphics are distributed over all collections of the library. In addition to the image archive, images are present in manuscripts and personal papers, as well as in printed works and further special collections. In the 19th century special collection groups were established for historical prints with predominantly copper engravings, lithographic prints or detached image materials. In the same way, block books, individual sheets and books produced by means of wood panels, incunabula with xylographs or illustrated single-sheet prints form special collections. Moreover, the library holds an extensive collection of painters' books, fine press books and artists' publications. These special collections are preserved by the Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books and can be consulted in the Reading Room for Manuscripts and Rare Books.

Image Archive


Photographs and representations in the form of single sheets are preserved by the Image Archive of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. It currently comprises around 19.2 million images. For the most part, these are photographs, but also representations in original-graphic techniques such as xylographs, copper engravings and lithographies form part of the collection.

The extensive holdings of the Image Archive have been catalogued partly. The individual images are indexed in a special database. Separate databases have been set up for the stern Photo Archive and the Ohlbaum Photo Archive.

► Bildarchiv  (Image Archive)

► stern Photo Archive

► Ohlbaum Photo Archive

All already digitized images are available in high-resolution, reproducible quality. Further images can be digitized at short notice. The use of images of the Image Archive is subject to authorisation and usually subject to a fee.

Conditions of use of the Image Archive of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

Areas of collection emphasis

  • Contemporary history since 1945
  • Weimar Republic and NS time
  • History in general, society, ethnography
  • Bavaria
  • Portraits and views

The library collects images of personalities who have been or are important for the cultural life in Bavaria. With respect to views of buildings, locations or landscapes, the focus is also on Bavaria. Portraits and views are also acquired to complement the special collections in the fields of music, Orient/ Asia and eastern Europe.

The same is applicable to images of historical events and related to ethnography.

The Weimar Republic, the NS time, the Second World War and the post-war period in Germany form further focal points.

The main attention is always on the documentary character of the images. Artistic photographs can be found in the old stock in small numbers, but are not acquired in targeted manner.

Photographic archives


The Image Archive in its current form was established in 1992. In the middle of the 1980s, the library started bringing together and systematically cataloguing the portraits that had accumulated in the Departments of Manuscripts and of Music. The Image Archive was strongly expanded by the purchase of the photographic archives of Felicitas Timpe, Heinrich Hoffmann, Bernhard Johannes and Georg Fruhstorfer. In 2019, the collection ultimately multiplied by seven through the donation of the STERN Photo Archive, which includes around 15 million images, by the Hamburg publishing house Gruner + Jahr.

The Image Archive of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek is a member of the Verband professioneller Bildanbieter (Association of professional providers of images, BVPA) and of the specialist group 7 (media archives) of the Verband deutscher Archivare (Association of German Archivists, VdA).


Jahn, Cornelia: Das Bildarchiv der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. In: MÜNCHEN. SCHAU her! Das Bildarchiv der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek: Fotografien 1839 – 1979. München, 2020. p. 13-23.

Obermeier, Angelika; Horn, Reinhard: Das Bildarchiv der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek – vom Bayerischen Königsschloss zum amerikanischen Rockstar. In: Bibliotheksmagazin (2007) 2, p. 33-37.