Academic and scientific research is a central part of museum work. The Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen and the affiliated Doerner Institut have initiated numerous projects to explore the museums’ holdings at greater depth. The spectrum ranges from provenance research to research on focal points of the museums’ collections and technical examinations of paintings.
The Doerner Institut employs a combination of conservator-restorers, specialists in technical analysis, scientists, a frame restorer, a woodworker, and exhibition and museum technicians. In addition to its work in the conservation studio and lab, the institute is responsible for preventive conservation, including building-related and security matters. Through its research into artistic techniques and materials and the close ties between practical conservation and scientific research, the Doerner Institut plays an important role in preserving cultural heritage.
In line with the principles agreed at the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets in 1998, the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen has undertaken systematic provenance research since 1999 in order to clarify the origins of artworks acquired by the museums from 1933 onwards. Through this research, we can identify works in the museums’ collections that were previously in Jewish ownership and expropriated unlawfully during the Nazi period. The goal is to compile seamless documentation of each artwork’s chain of ownership, which will aid in the resolution of restitution claims.
Max Beckmann Archiv
The Max Beckmann Archiv has more than 5,000 letters in its care, including almost 300 handwritten by Max Beckmann, in addition to about 6,000 photographs, 60,000 newspaper cuttings and well over 800 special publications. Unpublished writings, such as lectures and master’s theses, are also among the ever-growing collection along with video and audio recordings. A separate file is created for each of Max Beckmann’s works and for various persons from his circle. The archive is managed by the charitable organisation Max Beckmann Gesellschaft e.V.
Catalogue of the museum’s collection of Florentine paintings
Over seventy paintings created in Florence from the 14th to the 16th century, including works by Giotto, Fra Angelico, Leonardo Da Vinci and Botticelli, are currently being studied in detail for the first time by an interdisciplinary research project. The team of art historians, technical analysts, conservators, and scientists is investigating the working methods and painting techniques of the Florentine masters. The results will be published in an in-depth catalogue with extensive illustrations in 2017. The project is supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung.
Research on the period of secularisation
This ongoing project is dedicated to researching artworks that were acquired by the institutions preceding the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen during the period of secularisation and the territorial restructuring that took place in Germany at that time.
Over 1000 paintings from the storerooms of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen were released onto the international art market through public auctions held in Schleissheim, Augsburg and Nuremberg in 1852. The museum has devoted a further project to researching the background and circumstances of these auctions, which were officially sanctioned by the Bavarian king.
Together with museums in Berlin, Dresden, London, New York and Vienna, the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen took part in an international research project on Lucas Cranach the Elder that was sponsored by the Mellon Foundation in New York.
Between 2011 and 2013, the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen and the Doerner Institut researched the museum’s extensive collection of paintings by Jan Brueghel the Elder as well as works by his father, brother, and son in order to trace artistic developments within the family and define the individual styles of each member.
The audit of works from the holdings of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen that were lost during the Second World War was successfully completed in 2011 and can now be accessed via the Lost Art online database.