Preservation and Documentation
Numerous objects from the Berlin Kunstkammer have survived in the collections of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin or have been incorporated into the holdings of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin; others are now in the collection of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Many of the objects, however, are documented only in historical sources. Thus the research environment focuses on a text-based reconstruction in which the point of departure is not the surviving objects themselves, since these represent only a fraction of the original holdings; but rather, a reconstruction of the holdings based on source material. On the one hand, this approach is commensurate with the fact that many of the objects survive only in textual form; on the other, it also ensures that the origin of the information on the objects can always be traced and documented.
All of the object information derived from the sources – such as title, materials, motifs shown, associated persons such as maker or inventor, manner of presentation, location in the collection rooms, or details of origin – is bundled in the object entry. Repeated identification of the objects throughout the different sources has now made it possible to compare divergent pieces of information from various sources. For example, changes in the title or designation of an object, its location, or its place in the systematics of the collection can now be precisely traced over a period of time, enabling conclusions to be drawn regarding changes in the meaning of the object.
In this way, around 2,000 objects have been virtually recovered thus far from the selected sources and can now be studied using the object search in the research environment. The object search offers a variety of filters based on criteria contained in the sources, such as Material, Place of Origin, or Actor Relations. The filter “Collection Systematics” refers to the organizational categories (e.g., naturalia or “Figuren von Helffenbein” [ivory figures]) by which the objects were sorted in the various documents and which correspond to the wording of the source in question.
[for information on using the search function, see "Research Environment"]