Our collection in the library and archive

Our collection of objects and archives is the basis for our exhibition and research work. You can see various pieces from the collection in the exhibition or online.

Our collection is the basis for our research infrastructure. It comprises approximately 60,000 objects and 380,000 archive materials, including 542 works in the library that were published before 1800 (valuable rare books). Also included are data collections which were put together in the context of projects.

Our collection includes model ships, graphics, paintings, signal weapons, nautical instruments, oceanographic maps, rescue equipment, walk-in ships, as well as objects and archives on fishing and whaling and on the history of maritime and polar research, plans and technical drawings, films, photos, negatives, diapositives, art prints and posters.

Our collection concept, which was adopted in 2015, aims at specifically strengthening profile-building collection areas. A collection committee, comprised of representatives from the research, collection, museology and restoration segments of our museum, decides on the acquisition of objects. We established this committee for the purposes of deciding collaboratively on object offers and deacquisitions on the basis of the collection concept. It is our goal to achieve a systematic profiling of the collection aligned with clear scientific and ethical criteria. The collection committee generally convenes once a month.


Collection related enquiries



Archive related enquiries as well as enquiries on image rights



Online contact form


Library, archive, stock room and online platforms – access to our collection

We are happy to make our collection accessible to you for research purposes. Viewing is possible only on site. Please contact us to discuss content and dates with us before your visit. Please note that delays are possible due to relocation and construction.

We have made around 20,000 photos and image sources from the estate of the ship photographer Hanns Tschira (1920s and 1930s) and from the Stettner collection on the early modern period available to you online. If a photo or image from our collection catches your eye, you can order it directly from culture-images. We have also digitised technical plans and portraits in collaboration with the Leibniz research museums and institutes. The technical plans can be viewed at www.digipeer.com and the portraits at www.digiporta.net.

We also carry out research on your behalf and reproduce photos and other images sources for you. Please contact us in advance for a price estimate. You can use the online contact form for this purpose or contact us by post.

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