Aby Warburg's Bilderatlas Mnemosyne in Berlin, Germany

Warburg’s original working materials for his legendary Bilderatlas Mnemosyne have returned to Germany in two very special exhibitions. For the first time since 1929, all 63 panels of the Bilderatlas have been reconstructed using Warburg’s original materials for display at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, whilst at the Gemäldegalerie you can view some 50 original artworks in the collections of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin chosen by Warburg for inclusion in his encyclopedic atlas of images.

Aby Warburg with Gertrud Bing and Franz Alber in front of Warburg’s panel design, Rome, Palace Hotel, May 1929

Aby Warburg with Gertrud Bing and Franz Alber in front of Warburg’s panel design, Rome, Palace Hotel, May 1929

These exhibitions will give new viewers and readers a place at what Warburg liked to call ‘the workbench in the laboratory of the study of civilisation.'
Professor Bill Sherman, Director of the Warburg Institute

Aby Warburg: Bilderatlas Mnemosyne exhibition at Haus der Kulturen der Welt

Haus der Kulturen der Welt

4 September - 05 November 2020

Opening hours:

Daily except Tuesdays 12pm–7pm
Thursdays 12pm–10pm

For the first time since 1929, all 63 panels of Aby Warburg's most famous work the Bilderatlas Mnemosyne have been recovered from Warburg’s original images and are available to view in a special display at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) in Berlin.

The exhibition restores the last documented version of the 1929 atlas with the original illustrations: it is as close to the original as we will ever get to see in our life times. In collaboration with the Warburg Institute in London, the curators Roberto Ohrt and Axel Heil located most of the 971 illustrations from the 400,000 objects in the Institute’s Photographic Collection and Library to display Warburg’s unfinished magnum opus in its entirety for the first time since his death.

Purchase the accompanying folio volume

Read our interview with Exhibition Assistant Lorenza Gay


Between Cosmos and Pathos: Berlin Works from Aby Warburg's Mnemosyne Atlas exhibition at Gemäldegalerie


8 August - 1 November 2020

Opening hours:

Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday 10am-6pm
Thursday 10am-8pm
Saturday & Sunday 11am-6pm

Running concurrently to the exhibition Aby Warburg: Bilderatlas Mnemosyne – The Original, the Gemäldegalerie shows artworks ranging from prehistory and early history through to the modern age that Warburg used as the basis for his encyclopaedic image collection. You can view a three-dimensional restaging of the collection with works from ten of the collections of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin entering into a striking dialogue with Warburg’s magnum opus.

The works from ten of the collections of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – the antiquities collection of the Gipsformerei, the Kunstbibliothek, the Kunstgewerbemuseum, the Kupferstichkabinett, the Museum Europäischer Kulturen, the Münzkabinett, the Skulpturensammlung, the Vorderasiatisches Museum and the Gemäldegalerie, which features prominently with its masterpieces by van Eyck, Ghirlandaio, Botticelli, Rembrandt and Rubens – impressively display the wealth of the Berlin collections, illustrate the relationships between works and cultures across space and time, and at the same time shed light on the complex thought that underlies Aby Warburg’s Bilderatlas Mnemosyne.



About the 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 placed photographic reproductions of artworks from the Middle East, European antiquity and the Renaissance, alongside contemporary newspaper clippings and advertisements. 

In the years leading to his death in 1929, Warburg and his closest colleagues Gertrud Bing and Fritz Saxl experimented with the form and function of the Bilderatlas. Their goal was to present a publication designed for discussion among experts as well as the broader public. During the course of its creation, the atlas developed into an instrument of cognition.

Warburg’s methodology set new standards: it consisted in rearranging canonized images and looking at them across epochs. His project traversed the boundaries between art history, philosophy and anthropology and was fundamental for the modern disciplines of visual and media studies. Today, his use of visual memory provides inspiration and alternative routes through a reality dominated by visual media.

View the Virtual Tour
View ten of the panels in close detail online
View all of the panels 

Bilderatlas Mnemosyne panels

Panels from the Bilderatlas Mnemosyne