Deutsches Historisches Museum Germany, Berlin

Deutsches Historisches Museum

The German Historical Museum, known by the acronym DHM, is a museum in Berlin, Germany devoted to German history. It describes itself as a place of "enlightenment and understanding of the shared history of Germans and Europeans". It is often viewed as one of the most important museums in Berlin and is one of the most frequented. The museum is located in the Zeughaus (armoury) on the Unter den Linden as well as in the adjacent Exhibition Hall designed by I. M. Pei.

The German Historical Museum is under the legal form of a foundation registered by the Federal Republic of Germany. Its highest-ranking body is the Board of Trustees (Kuratorium) with representatives of the federal government, the German Bundestag (Parliament) and the governments of the German Länder, or states.


Material Culture

The Everyday Culture Collection comprises some 130,000 objects and consists of the following parts: Everyday Life, Agriculture, Technical History, Civilian Textiles and Costume, Badges, Religious Objects, Toys, Sound Recordings, and Political Objects.

Everyday Life

There are around 30,000 objects in the Everyday Life Collection. The oldest are from the Late Middle Ages, with particular focus on the time from the 18th century to the present. Among the most extensive parts of the collection are objects on the history of household and family, school and education, sports and leisure time as well as in the areas of trade and gastronomy, transport, traffic and public infrastructure. Another main focus is in the area of product advertising, with some 13,000 objects. This includes packaging as well as commercial signs, figures and display stands from around 1880 to the present.


The Collection of Agricultural Publications and Machinery reflects the industrialization and "scientification" of agriculture and documents general aspects of industrial and technical history. It comprises primarily stocks from the Royal Agricultural Museum in Berlin and its successor institution, the Agricultural University Berlin.

The collection consists of three sections:

  • A section consisting of some 30,000 individual publications from around 1850 to the Second World War (mostly writings about manufacturers, products and advertising) is no doubt unique of its kind.
  • A further section consists of the collection of historical agricultural models (around 200 objects) from the 19th and 20th centuries, in particular harrows and ploughs. The high quality of the individual models sets the collection apart, compared with other model collections in Germany and abroad.
  • The third (and smallest) section consists some 300 of original agricultural equipment and machinery from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They give a clear impression of the increasing specialisation and improvement in efficiency in this area.

Technical History

The Collection of Technical and Medical History comprises somewhat more than 10,000 objects from the Late Middle Ages to the present. The collection documents the variety of technical and medical developments and their uses in everyday life. It focuses on objects from the 19th and 20th centuries, primarily from the German territories. Among the most extensive parts of the technical history are objects on the history of crafts, agriculture and industry as well as the areas of household and family. Objects on film and television, traffic and transport as well as a model collection are also centers of interest. The stock of objects on medical history comprises medicinal equipment and instruments as well as display models and moulages (mouldings of diseased parts of the body). The collection also contains types of wound dressings and remedies, prostheses and other medical aids.

Civilian Textiles and Costume

The Collection of Civilian Textiles and Costume consists of more then 20,000 objects from around 1750 to the present day. It includes a broad spectrum of textiles ranging from clothing, accessories, linen and civilian uniforms to flags, tapestries, wreath ribbons and protest banners. In contrast to the Militaria collection, the objects collected here are all from civilian life. The collection continues to grow, primarily with the aid of donations from private persons.


The Collection of Badges comprises some 12,000 objects from around the middle of the 19th century to the present day. It contains badges from all different social contexts. They stem from May demonstrations, from political parties, clubs and other organisations and institutions, from sports events and cultural functions. The badges in the collection do not have the character of distinctions or decorations, which distinguishes them from the collection of Orders. There are also a few medals or stickers that can be worn so that there is hardly any overlapping with the collection of numismatics.

Religious Objects

The Collection of Religious objects comprises around 5,000 objects from the time of the 17th century to the present day. The objects are from the context of everyday religious practices: prayer beads, pilgrimage coins, crucifixes and roof tiles for house and home, Jewish ritual objects, amulets and objects used in traditional folk medicine. The religious objects are distinguished from those of the Arts and Crafts collection in their materials and processing. Religious objects made of paper can be found in the collections of wall decorations, Documents, posters and Manuscripts - old and valuable books, while other objects made of fabrics are in the collection of Civilian Textiles.


The Collection of Toys contains some 6,000 objects from the time around 1730 to the present. The term "toys" is interpreted rather broadly, because apart from classical toys, such as dolls or board games, there are also such objects as Baroque paper dioramas and peepshow pictures in the collection. Framed wall decorations are a sub-category of the collection. As opposed to the collection area Graphics the wall decorations here include mass-produced prints, embroidered pictures and souvenir photos.

Sound Recordings

The Collection of Sound Recordings currently comprises almost 4,000 objects. Besides vinyl records, which are still common today, the collection contains more than a thousand shellac records and 148 Edison cylinders from the early days of sound recording. It features a broad range of content. Focal points include historical voice recordings covering different aspects of German history, but also historically significant music recordings that reflect the sentiments of the times. Early phonetic speech and sound recordings made by the linguist and recording pioneer Wilhelm Doegen occupy a special place; his complete "sound archive" is in the German Broadcasting Archive.

Political Objects

The Collection of Political Objects consists of two parts: "Special Inventory" (7,500 objects) and "Politics" (900 objects). Both collection areas refer to the post-World War II period. The part known as Special Inventory contains objects that in some way represent gifts from the GDR and other socialist countries, while the area of "Politics" testifies above all to current developments. There are different genres in both parts of the collection, because it is not always possible to differentiate the works clearly from other collections, such as Documents. The collection of Special Inventory is largely complete, whereas the area of Politics continues to be expanded, primarily through endowments.


Historical sources and documents from the Middle Ages up to the Beginning of First World War

The collection comprises some 60,000 handwritten and printed originals as well as unique and precious items on German political, economic, social and everyday historical culture in its European context.

The collection is ordered according to theme and form. It contains:

  • Historical documents and records (9th-19th c.). Privileges, mandates, patents and edicts, instructions, laws and contracts, deeds of gift, title deeds, certificates of sale, business correspondence, legal and administrative records, political correspondence, protocols and account books
  • Seals and sealing sets. Medieval and early modern seals from rulers, cities and public administrations
  • Topographical and geographical maps, special maps and charts (15th–19th c.). World maps, continental maps, maps of Europe, national and regional maps, special maps such as naval, battle or military charts, railway routes, plans, sketches and ordnance survey maps
  • Publications with socio-political references. Flyers and pamphlets, political caricatures and diatribes with caricatures, political newspapers
  • Issue- and person-related documents on the culture of remembrance. Family registers, poetry albums and diaries, private letters and correspondences, greeting cards and telegrams, theatre and opera programmes, musical manuscripts, calendars

Documents after 1914

The collection covers the period from the beginning of First World War to the immediate present. As of the year 2014 around 135,000 objects are registered in the database.


Numismatic objects are collected and presented in the museum as important testimonies to German and European economic and financial history as well as constitutional, cultural and social history. The numismatic collection contains coins, including jetons, medals and tokens (7,500 objects), medals and plaques (7,000 objects), paper money (60,000 objects) and securities (14,500 objects, as of 2011).

Film Archive

The film archive comprises nearly 900 film prints of different kinds and genres. Depictions of German history have always been the main focal point of the collection practice and will remain so in the future. The films include German and international productions from the 1910s to the present day. Most of them are in the original language and are either 35 mm or 16 mm copies. Films from the collection are regularly presented in the Deutsches Historisches Museum’s Zeughauskino. Some of the film archive’s prints are also available for screenings in other cinemas.


Weapons, armor, military equipment

The collection is the oldest collection in the Deutsches Historisches Museum and closely connected with the history of the Zeughaus ("Armoury"). It comprises around 30,000 objects – from the Roman gladius (sword) to the Russian assault rifle Kalashnikov, from the tiny lock component of a hunting musket to the heaviest piece of artillery. The collection focuses on weaponry of the different German armed forces since the 18th century, including their equipment as well as outstanding European ornamental and ceremonial weapons of the 16th and 17th centuries. In addition, there is an extensive stock of medieval weapons and armoury. Today the militaria collection is evidence and source of the history of important phases and decisive situations in German history. It also documents the history of technology and culture as well as contemporary and current developments. As in all other collection areas, it is dependent on endowments from the public and private sectors.

Uniforms, flags, orders, prints

In its main areas the collection goes back to the stock of the old Berlin Zeughaus (armoury). Its objects illustrate the material culture of the military from the 18th century to the present.

Arts and crafts and graphics

Arts and Crafts

The objects in the Arts and Crafts Collection – nowadays the term "Applied Art" has gained in popularity – consist of such different materials and categories as glass art and ceramics, silver and gold work, tin wares and iron art castings, wood and ivory carvings, miniatures, furniture and modern design.

Sculptures up to 1900

The collection of Sculptures comprises all sculptural works that were completed or designed before the year 1900. In most cases the sculptures are figurative representations, portrait busts, statues of saints, monuments and portraits of rulers, scientists and artists.

Graphics Collection

In addition to original drawings the Graphics Collection contains above all graphic prints: woodcuts, copper engravings, etchings, steel engravings and lithographs. On the other hand, posters are not part of the Graphics Collection. They form a separate collection of the own. The oldest woodcuts are from the 15th century, the latest drawings from the year 2012. Focal points of the collection are event graphics, topographical views and portraits of prominent historical persons. The collection continues to be expanded through purchases and donations. The selection criteria are strict: prints with motifs related to German-European history are above all of interest. Only in exceptional cases is the entire estate of an artist taken over.