The Warburg Institute Archive

The Archive of the Institute preserves the working materials and papers of the Institute’s founder Aby M. Warburg and of other distinguished scholars closely associated with the Institute from its days in Hamburg to the present.

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Only the catalogues of the collection correspondence and Warburg's index card boxes are currently accessible online

The Archive of the Institute preserves the working materials and papers of the Institute’s founder Aby M. Warburg (1866-1929) and of other distinguished scholars closely associated with the Institute from its days in Hamburg to the present. The Archive also preserves papers relating to the history of the Institute as well as its academic and administrative records.

The Warburg Institute Archive holdings comprise the complete remaining papers of the former directors Fritz Saxl (1890-1948) and Gertrud Bing (1892–1964) as well as the literary estate of the cultural historian Dame Frances A. Yates (1899–1981). In addition, the Archive contains both papers and collections relating to the archaeologist Alphons A. Barb (1901-1979), the art historian Michael Baxandall (1933-2008), the historian of religion Robert Eisler (1882-1949), the art historian Leopold D. Ettlinger (1913-1989), the archaeologist Henri Frankfort (1897-1954), the art historian Sir Ernst H. Gombrich (1909-2001), the medievalist Evelyn Jamison (1877-1972), the art historian Betty Kurth (1878-1948), the art historians Otto Kurz (1908-1975) and his wife Hilde Kurz (1910-1981), the Institute's Secretary Anne Marie Meyer (1919-2004), the art historian Charles Mitchell (1912-1995), the classical scholar Roger A.B. Mynors (1903-1989), the art historian Ruth Olitsky Rubinstein (1924-2002), the ophthalmologist Siegfried Seligmann (1870-1926), the philosopher Walter Solmitz (1905-1962), the cultural historian Daniel P. Walker (1914-1985) and the historian Roberto Weiss (1906-1969).

Incorporated in the holdings of the Warburg Institute Archive are the working papers and private correspondences of Ernst H. Gombrich. To access these items permission must be obtained in advance from the Literary Estate of Sir E. H. Gombrich, 6 Celia Road, London N19 5ET. [NB: Please allow sufficient time for a response, which may not be immediate, before making travel or other plans. On obtaining permission, please contact the Institute’s archivist.]



Aby Warburg, Bilderatlas Mnemosyne

In February 1927, Aby Warburg embarked in earnest on a project that he never completed, the Bilderatlas Mnemosyne, which is now one of his most famous works. The Bilderatlas was conceived over the course of more than two and a half years, as the summa of his life’s work. The project consisted of a work-in-progress series of wooden panels, covered with black cloth, on which he pinned clusters of images (photographic reproductions, photos, postcards and various kinds of printed material), developed in several stages. The selection of images, number of panels and the arrangement of images were constantly changing, and during this period the panels were photographed three times. 






Description and Catalogues

A description of all collections held in the Warburg Institute Archive with a summary of both content and extent is available online.

The largest collection consists of Aby Warburg’s working papers. The papers have been fully catalogued at file level, but the catalogue remains under revision. A hard copy of the current version is available at the Warburg Institute Archive.

The most important of Aby Warburg’s unpublished or posthumously published working papers is listed in E. H. Gombrich, Aby Warburg. An Intellectual Biography, London (2nd ed.) 1986, in his ‘Bibliography’ under ‘Unpublished Sources’, pp. 343-47. A more complete summary list is published in Aby M. Warburg, Ausgewählte Schriften, ed. D. Wuttke, Baden-Baden (3rd ed.) 1992, pp. 585-97. The order recorded by Wuttke has been revised.

Only the catalogues of the collection correspondence and Warburg's card index card boxes are currently accessible online.

The correspondence collection contains Aby Warburg’s personal and institutional correspondence (WIA GC), and the correspondence between Aby Warburg and his family (WIA FC) from 1873 to 1929, followed by the correspondence of the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg (WIA GC), currently catalogued up to 1933. The correspondence collection is catalogued on item level. For Warburg’s lifetime (up to 1929) each entry contains an abstract of the content of the item.

The collection of 104 index card boxes (WIA III.2.1.ZK) is catalogued on file level.






Opening Hours and Contact Details for Enquiries

The Archive is open Monday – Friday, 10 am – 5 pm, except during the week at Christmas and at Easter when the Institute is closed. Due to shortage of staff it may be necessary to restrict this timetable. Access is by appointment only.

The Archivist (, will be pleased to answer any enquiries regarding the Archive, and to provide further information.

Access to the Archive

Access to all materials in the Archive is at the discretion of the Director; considerations of working space and staffing may make it necessary to restrict the number of persons admitted at any given time. Written applications from suitably qualified persons must reach the Director at least fourteen days in advance of the beginning of any proposed visit (applications by telephone are not acceptable), and should specify as exactly as possible the material to be consulted. They must be accompanied by a letter of recommendation from an academic referee. Applicants should note that restrictions apply to materials which mention persons now living, as with materials of a clinical nature relating to the years 1918-24. Those wishing to consult archival material are advised to make preliminary contact with the Archivist (

Information on group visits and guided tours


We do not accept orders for reproductions of documents held in the Warburg Institute Archive, but we do accept orders for reproductions of photographs. The usual restrictions apply to photographs representing unpublished works in copyright (e.g. Aby Warburg’s ‘Bilderreihen’ or Mnemosyne Atlas plates).

Archive users can request a limited amount of reproductions of documents for study purposes on site, not exceeding a maximum of 10 % of every catalogue number or 50 copies per week. Reproduction of letters in the Correspondence Archive is at the discretion of the Archivist. Reproduction of fragile or unsorted material is not permitted.

Permission to Publish

Permission to publish copyright material must be sought in writing from the Director.

Note - taking

Pencil only is to be used in the Archives

NO ball-point, fibre-point or metal-point pens; computers may be used.


Copyright in unpublished notes and letters belongs to their respective authors or his/her heirs or assigns, irrespective of present ownership.

How to Quote Archival Material

The Archive is currently organised into four main sections.

I. Material relating to the library in Hamburg and in London .
II. Photographs
III.-IV. Aby Warburg’s Papers

This structure will be subject to changes in the near future.

Quotations should be as follows:


WIA [for Warburg Institute Archive], complete catalogue number, title.


WIA, III.53.2. ‘Bildniskunst und florentinisches Bürgertum’, Leipzig 1902, Presentation Copy, inscribed to F. Saxl, 12 March 1914, p.7.



WIA, GC [General Correspondence], F. Saxl to A. Warburg, 12 April 1929.

WIA, FC [Family Correspondence], A. Warburg to Max M. Warburg, 5 April 1908.

Conditions of Use

Material, whether text or images, is available on the following conditions:

1. That due acknowledgement is made in any resulting publication, whether as book, thesis, article, other photographic or audiovisual medium, of the Institute’s ownership and, where relevant, copyright.

2. That two copies of offprints or one copy of books are supplied free of charge, addressed to either the Director or the Archivist; the author of an unpublished M.A. or Ph.D. dissertation which draws substantially on material in the Archive is requested to submit one copy.

3. That any material prepared for publication on the basis of papers in the possession of the Institute which makes reference to persons now living will be shown to the Institute in typescript before it is sent to a publisher, and that the Institute retains the right to delete or amend reference to living persons in it.

4. That the Institute is indemnified by the person to whom material as specified in 3. is made available against any action brought as a result of publication.

5. That correct archival references are provided for any material that is published.

Payment and Charges for Reproduction

We request pre-payment by credit card through the University of London Online Store for reproductions of material from the Warburg Institute Archive (see links below). Payment will generate an automated receipt. BACs payment for orders under £250.00 is subject to an administrative fee of £75.00.

For high-resolution digital reproductions of material from the Warburg Institute Archive: Archive Digital Photographs Digital Photographs (UK, EU) £12.00

For high-resolution digital reproductions of material from the Warburg Institute Archive: Archive Digital Photographs (Non-EU) £10.00

Reproduction rights:

-books with print run 1000+: Publication Permission (EU, UK) £60.00

-books with print run 1000+: Publication Permission (Non-EU) £50.00

-waived for books with print run under 1000, scholarly articles if copy of publication presented to our Library. Other fees, including use on TV, prices on application. Reg. no. GB 222 797 103

If you wish to place a photo-order, please email with the requested information. Advance payment is required via this link