Spread over three storeys on an area roughly the size of a football field, the multifaceted collection covers various cultural regions and many different epochs. What is on display only represents a fraction of the actual holdings. The presentation ranges from stunning examples of ancient pottery to filigree Samurai ironwork, the mirror-polished metal surfaces of Daguerreotypes and exquisitely embroidered haute couture all the way to contemporary furniture experiments.
Overview of the collection
The Ancient Art and Antiquities collection comprises more than 6,000 objects from seven millennia and is one of the most significant of its kind in Germany. It contains objects from the ancient Near East and Egypt as well as Greek, Etruscan and Roman artworks. Each in their own way, they paint a picture of the life, beliefs, ideas and creative drive of the people who made and admired them. The collection’s main areas of focus are Greco-Roman Egypt, beginning with the time of Alexander the Great, Greek and Italian ceramics in all their different forms, the art of the Etruscans, Roman portraiture and ancient jewellery. Explore the ground floor and embark on a journey through time. Discover the Ancient Art and Antiquities collection online.
Besides a number of precious manuscripts and libri amicorum, the collection mainly consists of printed works: incunabula, early illustrated books, bibles and hymnals, almanacs and calendars, emblem books and penmanship books, all the way to modern hand-pressed prints. It consists of several thousand objects and illustrates various aspects of book design and book art: type and typography, book illustration, book binding and artists’ books. The complete holdings are documented in the electronic library catalogue (OPAC) as part of the union catalogue of the German Common Library Network (GBV). Individual objects such as the Nuremberg Chronicle are displayed on site (Renaissance, ground floor). Discover the Book Art collection online.
Comprising approx. 30,000 works, the internationally recognised collection is impressive for the broad scope of its outstanding objects. They include medieval sculptures and carvings, church treasures and liturgical altar objects, objects from Renaissance cabinets of curiosities, Baroque sculptures, terracotta models, bronze statuettes and ivory art, scientific instruments, metalwork and goldwork, historic cutlery, folk art from northern Germany, European faience and porcelain, glasses, and furniture ranging from medieval chests all the way to classicist multipurpose furniture. 900 exhibits are permanently displayed on the ground floor and on the 1st floor of the Schümann Wing. Discover the European Decorative Arts and Sculpture collection online.
The MK&G has been collecting and presenting photographs since the late 19th century and was one of the first German museums to do so. Today the collection contains well over 75,000 works and is one of the most significant in the German-speaking world. It ranges in scope from portrait, fashion and object photography all the way to photojournalism and fine art photography, as well as documenting the stylistic and technical development of the medium from the daguerreotype process all the way to digital photography. The collection can be seen in changing presentations on the 2nd floor. Discover the Photography and New Media collection online.
The collection comprises approx. 400,000 works that document important aspects in the development of graphic design and printmaking. In addition to political, cultural and travel posters, it also covers type design, product advertising and corporate design. Besides iconic works, there are also numerous collections of papers that tell the story of the design, culture and history of printing from a new perspective, such as early colour and screen prints, feminist posters and flyers from the early days of techno culture. The collection is currently being expanded with a focus on female positions and perspectives. The collection can be seen in changing presentations on the 2nd floor and explored in the online collection.
The Islamic Art collection consists of approx. 1,000 works from Islamic-influenced cultures stretching from southern Spain and northern Africa all the way to western Asia and India and covers the period from the birth of Islam in the seventh century until the present. The highlights include impressive ensembles of architectural ceramics and Persian pottery. Together with a selection of book art, glass, metalwork and carpets, they are displayed on the 1st floor of the MK&G and can also be explored in the online collection.
Approx. 15,000 objects document more than 200 years of design history, from Biedermeier to Bauhaus, from Braun products all the way to Italian anti-design. Works by eminent artists like Lyonel Feiniger, Erich Heckel, Lavinia Schulz and Walter Holdt are on permanent display, as are the Art Nouveau exhibits, which are famous well beyond national boundaries and can be seen on the 1st floor. The historically relevant collection serves as a platform for dialogue on the future of design, which is discussed and debated in exhibitions and projects. Discover the Applied Arts and Design collection online.
The collection contains close to 25,000 objects – women’s, men’s and children’s clothing, accessories, lace and embroidery, as well as fabrics, textile art, tapestries and carpets, from ancient times all the way to the present day. The extensive collection documents artistry, design and workmanship with examples from haute couture, prêt-à-porter, workshops and ateliers. Objects from the fashion collection are shown in changing presentations on the 1st floor. In addition, there are permanent textile exhibits on the ground floor, 1st and 2nd floors. Discover the Fashion and Textiles collection online.
The more than 600 musical instruments from five centuries are outstanding examples of masterful craftsmanship and artistic design. Just a few years after its founding, the museum bought precious Baroque instruments by Hamburg lute and viol maker Joachim Tielke at auction. The collection continues to expand thanks to gifts and acquisitions, such as the historical keyboard instruments of Hamburg collector Andreas Beurmann and string and woodwind instruments from the collection of Wolfgang Hanneforth. The instruments are on permanent display in the Schühmann Wing (ground floor and 1st floor). Discover the Musical Instruments collection online and explore it in the musical instrument app.
The East Asia collection comprises more than 14,000 works from China, Korea and Japan, from ritual bronzes from the Shang Dynasty (approx. 1600-1046 BC) all the way to contemporary video art. The main areas of focus are Japanese coloured woodcuts, dyeing stencils, ceramics, lacquerware, painting and sword ornaments from the Edo period (1615–1868), as well as outstanding Chinese porcelain from the Imperial Workshops. Generous donations from Hamburg citizens like Harold and Ingeborg Hartog, Jan Philipp Reemtsma, Marianne Gierok and Gerhard Schack enrich the collection on the 1st and 2nd floors. Discover the East Asia collection online.