Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut
Preussischer Kulturbesitz

Three gables

Image Archive

Xingú-Expedition 1887 (CC NC-BY-SA)
Xingú-Expedition 1887 (CC NC-BY-SA)

The Ibero-American Institute (IAI) Image Archive contains materials that are an integral part of the Institute's Papers and Manuscript Holdings and are closely interrelated with the IAI's other special collections. These include photographs, slides, photographic glass plates, film negatives and postcards. The photographs relate to Spain, Portugal and Latin America, in particular Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Peru. Many date from the early years of photographic technology. Overall, the collection spans a period from 1860 to 2010.

The materials in the IAI photo library are especially interesting and important for national and international research because they are research data that are in a common context with manuscripts, notebooks, letters and drawings from excavations and buildings, as well as books and journals from the Institute's library. For example, the bequest of the German-Austrian architect and photographer Teobert Maler (1842-1917), considered one of the pioneers of research on Mayan ruin sites in Mexico and Guatemala, contains not only his notebooks, manuscripts, letters and architectural drawings, but also numerous photographs that document, among other things, the condition of pre-Columbian buildings of the time and are therefore still of great value for research today precisely because they are recorded and accessible at the IAI in the context of its entire heritage.

The bequests of Hans Steffen, Max Uhle, Eduard Seler, Arthur Posnansky, Erich Zurkalowski and Walter Lehmann include photographs by Peruvian photographer Max T. Vargas (ca. 1874-1959), especially images of landscapes, excavations, cities and buildings in Peru and Bolivia. The Walter Lehmann and Max Uhle bequests also contain portraits, landscape photographs, and photographs of archaeological excavations, for example Machu Picchu and Cuzco, by Martín Chambi (1891-1973), who worked as an assistant to Max T. Vargas from 1908. Part of Max Uhle's legacy are photographs by the Austrian-born naval engineer Arthur Posnansky (1873-1946), who devoted himself to archaeology, traveled to Bolivia around 1900 and investigated the archaeology and antiquities of Bolivia. These are black and white photographs of Tiahuanaco, the Island of the Sun and the Island of the Moon.

The collection of images by photographer Hugo Brehme (1882-1954) from Eisenach, who settled in Mexico in 1908 and founded a photographic studio there after traveling in Africa and Central America, is an example of the close links between the IAI's photographic collections and bequests and the IAI library holdings. Some of the photographs were acquired from Brehme's photographic studio in 1927 by librarian Herman B. Hagen, while others come from the bequests of Walter Lehmann and Eduard Seler. The photographs are of outstanding technical quality for their time and show a multifaceted image of Mexico in the period 1910-1920. Several of the illustrated books published by Hugo Brehme and numerous secondary literature on Brehme's work are available in the IAI library. The IAI has made the photographs available to the national and international public and to researchers in various exhibition and publication projects.

By the German photographer Emilio Biel (1838-1915), who emigrated to Portugal in 1857 and ran a photographic studio in Porto, the IAI has photographs of traditional costumes and views of Porto around 1900.

For more information on the image archive, please click on the list in the left-hand column. It is also possible to search the library by keyword.

As part of an indexing project funded by the Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media, the IAI was able to catalog its 8,300 photographic glass plates and 1,100 film negatives and digitize a large part of this material in 2013. The digital copies are available in the online catalog and the Digital Collections.

Exhibition: Gläsernes Bildgedächtnis Lateinamerikas

Terms of use

All materials in the image archive are generally non-circulating and can only be viewed in the reading room of the Ibero-American Institute (IAI). To view the collections, please complete the application form.

Upon written request, reproductions can be made for scientific purposes. However, this is only possible for materials for which the IAI holds the copyright or which are in the public domain. Likewise, there must be no reasons of preservation to prevent this.


Consultation hours:

Monday 2 p.m. - 4 p.m

Tuesday 10 a.m. - 12 noon

Wednesday: 3 p.m. - 5 p.m. (virtually)

Thursday, Friday: 10 a.m. - 12 noon

Contacts:Toni Matzdorf
Dr. Gregor Wolff (Department Head)
Telephone:Toni Matzdorf, Tel.: +49 30 266 453110
Dr. Gregor Wolff, Tel.: +49 30 266 45 3100

2021 || Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut Preussischer Kulturbesitz