With its collection, the scholarly maintenance of its holdings, its research projects, and its exhibitions, all of which center around objective, documentary photography, Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur contributes to a wide range of regional, national, and international artistic and cultural offerings. We appeal to visitors from all spheres of general interest and experts in equal measure.
The institution’s collection comprises more than 30,000 works by historical and contemporary photographers of various nationalities. A significant share of these—more than 10,500 negatives and 5,500 original prints—is part of the August Sander Archive, followed by negatives and prints from important series by the artist couple Bernd and Hilla Becher. These two photographic stances, are since 1992 and 1996, in terms of style and content decisive for the further development of the collection. The longterm loan of original Karl Blossfeldt prints from the Berlin University of the Arts augments the focus on objective photograph. The collection of the German Photographic Association, which was assembled from the fifties to the eighties was additionally purchased by Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur in 1993. In July 2014, the GAG Immobilien AG (Cologne local real estate company) transferred its holdings of the architectural photographers Werner Mantz and Hugo Schmölz to the Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur. They document in particular the emergence of the GAG settlements in the 1920s and 1930s.
Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur maintains a close collaboration with numerous artists, such as Hilla Becher, particularly on specific groups of work in her archive that she compiled together with her husband Bernd Becher, who died in 2007. Jim Dine also maintains a special tie with the institution, having entrusted his photographic oeuvre to the collection since 2004. It furthermore includes extensive bodies of work by Boris Becker, Joachim Brohm, William Christenberry, Paul Dobe, Ruth Hallensleben, Gabriele and Helmut Nothhelfer, Albert Renger- Patzsch, Wilhelm Schürmann, and Stephen Shore. The collection is being continuously expanded, in many cases by permanent loans and generous gifts.
There are two to three exhibitions a year, most of them accomponied by publications compiled at Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur. Presentations are organized that are assembled from the institution’s own collection as well as displays of works that enter into a dialogue with it. The exchange with regional, national, and international institutions plays an important role, as evidenced by numerous collaborative exhibition projects and a lively circulation of loans.