Art History

Opening hours

Bibliothek Kunstgeschichte

The Library of the Institute of Art History is a specialist academic library and part of the University Library Bern (UB). It has been jointly managed with the Museum of Fine Arts Bern since 1936.

Its collections are primarily intended for members of the university, students and the staff of the Museum of Fine Arts Bern. Other interested persons are requested to register beforehand.

The contents of the library correspond with the research priorities of the Institute of Art History and the Museum of Fine Arts Bern.

The library comprises around 135,000 volumes categorized by subject group/shelfmark. The collection grows by around 2,500 new acquisitions each year. Around 250 current and 300 completed journals and some 450 non-books (CDs and DVDs) supplement the collection.

Old and valuable books are housed in the closed-off storage facilities, the so-called "archive".

The library collects literature and media focusing on the following:

  • Art and architecture history of the Middle Ages, Early Modern and Modern period and the present era.
  • Theory of art and architecture
  • Methods of the science of art
  • Preservation and restoration of monuments
  • World art history
  • Textile arts
  • Art historiography
  • Source texts
  • Catalogs of works
  • Exhibition catalogs
  • Archive with rare collections from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries

We would be happy to accept purchase proposals by e-mail or form.

All library's media can be found on swissbib Basel Bern.


  • Study places: 30 study places for customers. They cannot be reserved and must be vacated in the evening.
  • 2 retrieval terminals in the library and a computer with scanner in the media room.
  • Wireless LAN (network of the University of Bern)
  • The books can be arranged in a personal reference collection on an open shelf. A name tag can be obtained from reception. The books must be arranged in an orderly manner by shelfmark.
  • Copies may be made by users with care and under due consideration of the condition of the book. Please note: Journals and leather-bound books and books from the archive may not be photocopied. Cards for 50 copies (CHF 10) or 100 copies (CHF 20) plus a card deposit (CHF 5) can be purchased from reception.


Registered customers (IDS user card) may borrow some books and media from the library on site.

Media from the non-lending collection (shelfmarks Z (journals), L (encyclopedias and manuals) and Q (source texts)) as well as rare items and archive items stored in the closed-off storage facilities are excluded from borrowing. Books from course and project reserve collections can also only be viewed on site.

No Interlibrary loan.

Introductory Sessions

Introductory sessions to the library are offered as part of courses and at all times on request.