Camera files in the collections; Photo: J.K. Leopold
Camera files in the collections; Photo: J.K. Leopold

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Stock formation and structuring

The museum collects all items and materials related to films, their creators and their presentation in cinemas. These include: film, production and publicity stills, portraits, photo negatives, production and costume sketches, written production records and personal records documenting the creative work of artists or providing information about their biography, literary preliminary work (also for projects not realised), objects like models, props, costumes, awards, etc. Cinema presentations are documented by press clippings, posters, programmes and other advertising material, such as catalogues or film calendars.

Estates and closed collections take in a special position. Composed of the most diverse items, they are stored as self-contained, closed units and complemented by an archive containing contemporary witness accounts.

A video archive as well as films and film clips from estates or individual-related collections are available for research purposes.

Besides items and materials related to persons and films, collections related to places of production (the Babelsberg studios in particular) and to the history of German cinemas exist.

Documents on more than 700 companies complement the collection of cinematographic devices. These written records help to identify technical items and facilitate research on their development. An extensive collection of patents provides insights into the history of development of film and cinema technology.

Structuring the extremely diverse stocks, the collections department team benefits from the experiences of comparable collections in Germany.
Thus, different items / materials form separate units and are stored and conserved appropriately according to their respective needs.

The most important structuring principles that comply with common user requests are personal names and film titles. Moreover, stocks with alphabetical and numeric indices exist.
The structuring of estates and individual-related collections, written records, set and costume design as well as of the technology collection follows special principles.

As a rule, estates / collections as well as set / costume design follow the principle of provenance and are generally stored, structured and indexed as units. This means that the creator of a collection determines the context of the collection's formation and tradition. This also applies for the collection of written material: the structure is determined by the names of persons, firms or institutions. In case the previous owner cannot be determined or in case a meaningful connection between the previous owner and the collection’s contents does not exist, indexing by film title is also common practice.

Criteria for the structuring of the technology collection result from the function of the devices (recording, playback and editing devices) and manufacturer names.