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archive

About

The archive is the heart of the Schwules Museum. Featuring around 1.500.000 items, it is by far the largest and most extensive collection of documents and items associated with LGBTIQ* history and culture in Germany. Our archive is among the most important centers for LGBTIQ* research worldwide and is, an addition, uniquely connected to our exhibitions.

Until now, only fragments of the total collection have been made accessible properly. Is is also growing daily through donations, inheritances of LGBTIQ* or through collections from public archives, associations and political groups.

Reading Room

The library of the Schwules Museum doubles as the archive’s reading room and is located in the upper floor of the museum. It may be used without registration during opening hours. Spaces for working are available. There is an information desk in the reading room to provide assistance with any questions. 

Orders

Items from the archive cannot be made available immediately. Orders placed thursdays and fridays will be made available on the following monday. Orders for thursdays have to be made until wednesday 3.30 pm.

About the Archive and his Function

The archive has developed in tandem with the museum, from 1985 on. It has always been conscious of itself as an archive of the gay movement, as a movement archive in the classical sense. However, the intent of the collection has since expanded far beyond these themes. The mission of the archive is stated in Article 2.2 of the Schwules Museums articles of association:

§2.2 The mission of the archive, the library and the museum is the exploration of the day-to-day life, culture and the movement of homosexual and transgender people, past and present. To this end, artworks, books and other materials shall be collected and made accessible to the public.

In contrast to state archives which classify their materials according to the principle of provenance (= according to their origins), the archive at the Schwules Museum works with a mix of the principles of provenance and pertinence. This means bequests from individuals or groups will be stored according to their origins, but much larger sections are organized according to topics, events, territories or persons (= principle of pertinence).

We make every effort to process our holdings and make them available according to archival standards (storage in archival folders, organizational systems, signatures, inventory indexing). Since work on the archive is done primarily on a volunteer basis, not all bequests have been indexed. This can result in some limitations to use.