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Collection Profile

The documenta archiv is an institution for the preservation, documentation and scientific research of text and image based resources on modern and contemporary art. The principal task is the collection of the history of the documenta exhibitions. The archive was founded in 1961 and consists of comprehensive records of the documenta exhibitions. A scientific research library, extensive press, image and audiovisual collections form part of its holdings. Personal papers complete our collection.


The establishment of a center for curators’ estates is planned for the future.


Archival files and other collection materials are cataloged to a high standard and made available to the academic community and the interested public in a timely and effective manner – in compliance with data protection and privacy laws.

1. Core repository


The documenta archiv’s main holdings comprise original files and materials generated by the respective teams of the documenta exhibitions. These include written documents, sketches, concepts, printed matter, press materials, photo documentations and various other items. These materials are supplied to the documenta archiv by the documenta and Museum Fridericianum gGmbH, for purposes of safekeeping, documentation and research.

2. Focus of the collection


The documenta archiv furthermore collects relevant publications, printed matter and press materials, personal papers, as well as image, video and audio materials, related to the following thematic groups:

  • documenta exhibitions from 1955 to the present
  • documenta artists
  • world exhibitions (i.e. biennials)
  • curatorial practice

3. Research relevance


The documenta archiv as research institute is primarily focused on art historical and cultural historical research. Its main target audience is the scholarly world. New acquisitions must therefore be of significant value to art historical and cultural historical research. The collection focus lies on qualitative outstanding items.