Springe direkt zu Inhalt

Theater History Collections

Concession for Max Reinhardt to operate the theater "Schall und Rauch" (1901)

Concession for Max Reinhardt to operate the theater "Schall und Rauch" (1901)
Image Credit: Theaterhistorische Sammlungen des Instituts für Theaterwissenschaft der Freien Universität Berlin

The Theater History Collections at Freie Universität Berlin have been built up since the 1950s with the aim of making theater-related material available to both faculty and students. The collections follow in the tradition of source-based theater studies research established in Berlin by Max Herrmann (1865–1942).

Besides actively collecting playbills and reviews of current productions in Berlin (extensive holdings well into the 1990s for West and East Berlin), the Institute for Theater Studies maintains the Walter Unruh Collection (deposited by the State of Berlin), one of the largest former private collections on Berlin’s theater history from the 18th to the 20th centuries. In addition, the Institute for Theater Studies holds major artists’ estates, as well as extensive collections of photographs, playbills, and press clippings.

To make the archival holdings more accessible to the general public and to facilitate new forms of access, the Theater History Collections are currently in the process of digitizing selected holdings.

Contact Person

Dr. Peter Jammerthal

Telefon    (030) 838-503 47

Fax          (030) 838-4594 19 

E-Mail      peter.jammerthal@fu-berlin.de

Inventory List

The inventory list provides an overview of the object groups available in the Theater History Collections.

For technical reasons, most of the collections of reviews and programs after 1945 are not available until further notice!

Research Catalogue

Parts of the collection as well as the catalog of the collection library can be searched online via the Fachinformationsdienst Darstellende Kunst.


Please enter "Freie Universität Berlin, Institut für Theaterwissenschaft" in the search filter under "Datengeber" and then "Archivbestand" (15,421 entries).

Additionally, parts of the autograph holdings can be found in the Kalliope union catalog.

Advice and Lending

Mon., Tues. und Thurs. 10.00 a.m. - 4.00 p.m.

Please register by phone or email, as the collection holdings are not freely accessible.

Use of documents already made available is also possible by arrangement during the library's opening hours.

Digitization Project Estate of the Brandt Family of Stage Technicians

Planung der Elektrifizierung des Gartens des Neuen Königlichen Operntheaters (Krolloper) in Berlin (Ausschnitt)

The collection of the Brandt family of stage technicians, who have furnished various stages in and outside Germany over several generations (including in Bayreuth, Berlin and Darmstadt), offers detailed insights into one hundred years of stage technology knowledge. The approximately 1000 objects direct the viewer's gaze to the scenes beyond the scenic action: to backstage and side stages, to the sub-machinery, the lacing floor, the magazines and the workshops. Funded by the Senate Chancellery as part of the Program for the Digitization of Cultural Assets of the State of Berlin 2021.

Digitization project director's book Max Reinhardt


Max Reinhardt (1873-1943) managed the first successful production of Georg Büchner's revolutionary drama "Dantons Tod" at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin in 1916. His director's book for this production, which is in the Theaterhistorische Sammlungen of Freie Universität Berlin, can also be considered an exemplary document for the developments of theater aesthetics in Germany.

Digitization Project Estate of Traugott Müller


Along with Caspar Neher and Teo Otto, Traugott Müller (1895-1944) is one of the most important stage designers of the German theater of his generation.

The Institute of Theater Studies at Freie Universität Berlin owns Müller's most extensive partial estate, including around 90 percent of his surviving graphic work, which was digitized in 2015 as part of the funding program for the digitization of the cultural heritage of the state of Berlin and is made available here online in its entirety for the first time.

(Re-)Collecting Theatre History


»(Re-)Collecting Theatre History« is a joint project between the theater collections of the University of Cologne and the Free University of Berlin in cooperation with the Theater Museum Düsseldorf, the German Theater Museum Munich, the Academy of Arts Berlin and the Cologne Center for e-Humanities (CCeH). It aims at the theater-scientific re-perspectivization and resystematization of person-related holdings on the early 20th century. The starting point of the project is the 'accidental' biographical order of holdings (often in the form of estates), which stands in contrast to established process models and theoretical categories of theater historiography. With a view to Germany's eventful political history in the period from 1900 to 1970, continuities and discontinuities in work processes, artistic perspectives, and actor networks are examined - based on selected partial holdings.