Professional Associations and Research Groups in the Field
Institutions Documenting the History of the Performing Arts
Associations, Research Groups, etc.

Libraries, archives and collections of documents related to the performing arts are presented below with their individual focal points in a series of short portraits.

Academy of the Arts Berlin, Performing Arts Archive

The Archive collects, preserves, and catalogues documents and other items belonging to directors and conductors of theatre and musical performances; actors, dancers and choreographers; stage designers; critics; theatre scholars; dramatists; dramatologists; as well as cabarettists and composers working primarily in cabaret. Staging documentation has been used here as a submethod of theatre documentation to record how current stage productions by leading directors in theatre and musical performances came into being.
The seed for the Performing Arts Archive was sown in 1951-52, and in 1960 it received its first inherited private collections. The documents and other items it houses represent the period from the 19th century to today. The Archive preserves documents and items belonging to 270 people as well as housing 19 theme-based collections, including about 1,300 staging documentations. This adds up to more than 1,800 metres of archive material, over 25,000 oversize pages and more than 35,000 photos.

Focal points of the collection:

  • Members of the Academy of the Arts
  • Theatre in Berlin
  • Theatre in exile
  • Theatre in the German Democratic Republic
  • Theatre in the Federal Republic of Germany
  • Contemporary theatre
  • Expressionist dance
  • Cabaret
  • Criticism and Theatre Studies
  • Archives owned by theatres and associations
  • Staging documentation of theatre and musical performances
  • Documentation of theatre during the period of German reunification


Academy of the Arts Berlin, Library

The Library houses documents and other items amounting to over 600,000 volumes on all disciplines in the arts. The focal point is the works of the Academy’s members and award winners. The documents and other items are supplemented by numerous special collections, with those on expressionism and literature produced in exile from 1933-1945 being especially noteworthy.
In addition, the Library boasts extensive collections of stage manuscripts, national and international exhibition catalogues, rare periodicals and the collections of institutions and artists’ associations.
Its unique character is underlined by over 300 private collections left to the Library by leading writers, architects and artists, as well as bibliophiles and members of the cultural establishment in both the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany.
For the SIS web portal, private collections in the field of performing arts have been selected, including those of Bertolt Brecht, Bernhard Minetti, Herbert Ihering and Christoph Schlingensief.


Federal Republic of Germany Centre of the International Theatre Institute e.V., Mime Centrum Berlin, Dance and Theatre Media Library

The Mime Centrum Berlin is a public institute dedicated to documentation, information, research and hands-on work in dance and theatre.
With its video studio, a large rehearsal and workshop studio and an extensive media library, the Mime Centre explores the juxtaposition of hands-on and theoretical approaches to questions of bodily expression and types of movement in the performing arts.
The Media Library, with its more than 8,000 videos, books and periodicals, provides visitors a view into developments in the performing arts at a national and international level. The media library’s collection of documents and other items is being continually expanded by its own documentations, acquisition of collections, and items on loan from artists, festivals and theatres.
The Berlin Dance and Theatre Centre promotes the exchange of ideas between artists, researchers, journalists and others interested in the performing arts. At public events such as film viewings, lectures and discussions, it offers the public the opportunity to learn about significant developments in dance and theatre, both past and present.


Freie Universität Berlin, Institute of Theatre Studies, Historical Theatre Collections

The Free University’s Institute of Theatre Studies offers courses in Theatre Studies (BA and MA), Dance Studies (MA), Film Studies (BA and MA), and Music Studies. The courses are primarily based on theoretical, historical, and critical approaches, with the Institute being part of an international and interdisciplinary research community, maintaining contact with other institutes in the field with both a theoretical and hands-on orientation.
The Institute’s Historical Theatre Collections include extensive archives, especially on the history of theatre in Berlin from the 18th to the 21st centuries, with a focus on the period from 1900-1950. They are all open to the public and as part of the Institute’s library, can be viewed free of charge. The Institute houses the Walter Unruh Historical Theatre Collection, on permanent loan from the Federal State of Berlin, one of the largest formerly private collections of this kind. In addition, the Institute’s archive contains additional significant inherited private collections left to it by artists, and extensive collections of photos, theatre bulletins and press excerpts. Special attention is being paid to continuing the collection of theatre programmes.
Not all of the documents and other items have been entered into the database. You will find a detailed overview of the books and items on the Institute’s homepage:


German Institute of Dance Film Bremen

The German Institute of Dance Video in Bremen is a national archive that collects, processes and produces audiovisual recordings of dance performances. It was founded in 1988 as a non-profit organisation with the aim of supporting the work of choreographers, dance companies, theatres, television production companies and journalists in the field by providing access to its video archive. It also assists in the production, restoration and digitalisation of dance videos and films.

E-mail: Mailformular

Theatre Museum of the State Capital of Düsseldorf

The Theatre Museum grew out of the private theatre archive of the Düsseldorf Dumont-Lindemann Actors’ Association (1904 - 1933); the archive was founded in 1938. It was donated to the City of Düsseldorf by Gustaf Lindemann in 1947. Today, the focal point of its collections, research, documentation and exhibitions is the history of theatre in Düsseldorf and the surrounding region beginning in the 16th century. The documents and other items include a wide variety of theatre-related collections: photos, the collection of graphic arts, sources on theatre practice, audiovisual media, hand-written manuscripts, the collection of press excerpts, three-dimensional objects and a specialised library on theatre studies. Most of the documents and other items are from the 20th and 21st centuries.


University Library Frankfurt am Main - Specialised Information Service Performing Arts

This catalogue excerpt issued by the University Library Frankfurt lists books and other materials (audiovisual media, notes, illustrations, etc.) related to theatre and film studies and published beginning in 1986, as well as periodicals and online publications (all years of publication).
The documents and other items are being continually added to as part of the Specialised Information Service Performing Arts.


Theatre Museum Hanover

The focal point of the Theatre Museum Hanover’s collections is on documents and other materials related to performances staged by the Federal State Capital of Lower Saxony, or, to be more precise, on the stages of the current State Theatre of Hanover (Opernhaus, Schauspielhaus und Ballhof) as well as the institutions that preceded them. The Museum also houses individual materials related to performances in other Hanover theatres or to performances outside Hanover, but these are not collected systematically. The materials related to opera, acting, ballet, and concerts mostly consist of programmes and / or bulletins, role and scene photos or slides, reviews, stage design models and figurines.


German Dance Archives Cologne – Excerpt from the In-house Database of the German Dance Archive Cologne (Dance Information System)

The Archive houses over 400 inherited private libraries and collections once owned by dancers, choreographers, dance teachers and ballet critics (Harald Kreutzberg, Kurt Jooss, the Duncans, the Sacharoffs, Mary Wigman, Dore Hoyer, etc.).
The photo collection includes over 300,000 photos and/or negatives as well as inherited photo collections once owned by people in the field (Siegfried Enkelmann, Dietmar Dünhöft, Hans Rama, etc.).
In addition, the Archive has an extensive art collection (inherited private collections once owned by Ernst Oppler, Arthur Grunenberg etc.) as well as a collection of costumes and posters.
The documentation section archives approximately 650,000 newspaper excerpts beginning in the 1950s and includes articles on specialised topics such as expressionist dance (1920s - 1930s) as well as approximately 30,000 programmes.
The library boasts approximately 14,000 titles and about 20,000 periodicals related to the field.
The video library houses over 4,500 films, including camera choreographies, filmed stagings, experimental dance films, musicals, documentaries, and stage recordings.
The Dance Museum is next door and exhibits the items and collections.

The Dance Archive was founded in 1948 by the dancer and teacher Kurt Peters. Since 1986 it has been funded and run by the Stiftung Kultur (Cultural Foundation) in cooperation with the City of Cologne as an informational, documentation and research centre for the field of dance.


Theatre Collection of the University of Cologne

The Theatre Collection of the University of Cologne is an international documentation and research centre for theatre history and media culture. The focal points of the Collection are German-speaking theatre culture – with an extensive archive of reviews and photos, supplemented by a wide-ranging collection of graphic art – and the approaches to theatre and media in various cultures and epochs.


Dance Archive Leipzig

Founded in 1957 as a collection of traditional folkloric items, the Leipzig Dance Archive has since expanded to become a documentation centre representing all types of dance. By the time of his death in 1984, Petermann had established the Archive as a well-recognized institution contributing to an understanding of dance as a cultural phenomenon. In 1975, the Archive became an associate member of the German Democratic Republic’s Academy of Arts. Since 1993, the Dance Archive has been run as a non-profit association founded by the University of Leipzig and the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Academy of Music and Theatre. In 2011, the Leipzig Dance Archive was taken on the University of Leipzig Library. The documents and other items are divided into a specialised library and the dance archive collection, which includes film recordings from the second half of the 20th century, literary collections, full and partial inherited private collections, posters, photographs, postcards, microfilm and other archive material. Some of the documents and other items have been entered into a database which can be viewed in the special collections and using University of Leipzig Library computers.


German Theatre Museum Munich, Library

The German Theatre Museum not only preserves the history of theatre in Munich, but in Germany as a whole. In addition, it documents the ties linking the theatre and cultural scenes in the various European countries. All in all, the collection consists of approximately 250,000 pages of graphics and approximately 500,000 original manuscripts. The German Theatre Museum houses an extensive collection of original graphics from the Baroque period, and the most valuable of the 130,000 volumes date back to the Renaissance. In addition, the Museum owns the largest collection of theatre photographs worldwide, including some dating from the dawn of the photographic era.


Stiftung SAPA, Schweizer Archiv der Darstellenden Künste

Die Stiftung SAPA sammelt, dokumentiert, archiviert und verbreitet in der Schweiz produzierte, mit der Schweiz in Verbindung stehende oder für sie bedeutende Werke aus dem Bereich der Darstellenden Künste (Tanz, Theater, Performance). All diese Dokumente bilden die Helvetica der Darstellenden Künste. SAPA ist am 1. Januar 2017 aus dem Zusammenschluss zweier Institutionen entstanden:

  • Das Schweizerische Tanzarchiv, das wiederum aus dem Zusammenschluss der Archives suisses de la danse (gegründet 1993 von Jean Pierre Pastori in Lausanne) und der mediathek (gegründet 2005 von Wolfgang Brunner und Eva Richterich in Zürich) hervorgegangen ist.
  • Die Schweizerische Theatersammlung STS, gegründet 1927 als Privatinitiative von Theaterakteuren, wurde 1978 in eine Stiftung (mit drei öffentlichen Stiftungsträgern und der Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Theaterkultur SGTK als Mitstifterin) überführt.


Theatre Museum Vienna

In 1922 the Theatre Collection of the Austrian National Library was founded, with the large number of books acquired from the court theatre actor Hugo Thimig’s private collection providing a basis to which other theatre items and non-book materials were then added. The specialised library which has resulted from these beginnings now boasts approximately 100,000 books, volumes of periodicals, stage manuscripts and theatre bulletins, with the focal points being spoken and musical theatre, dance and ballet, puppet theatre, film, television, and audio plays.


Deutsches Forum für Figurentheater und Puppenspielkunst

The specialist library of the German Forum for Figure Theatre and Puppetry is available as a reference collection to all interested parties on site and over the Researcher in Residence scholarship program. It also provides an on-demand digital document delivery service.

The library collection features foremost literature about figure theatre and puppetry arts. This includes general publications on the history and theory of puppet and object theatre, theatre and university publications on the subject of figure theatre, illustrated books on puppet and object theatre worldwide, catalogues of masks and figure exhibitions, literature on construction and performance of figures, publications on puppetry in therapy and education as well as over 1500 puppetry plays. Particularly noteworthy is the collection of German and international puppetry magazines.

In addition to the puppetry related collection, the library also offers literature on related arts such as fine arts, performing arts and new media as well as cultural-political writings. The institutional archive preserves photos, festival and theatre programmes, reviews and other grey literature with the focus on the German figure theatre scene.