Graphics Collection and Photographic Archives


Traffic on the Loebegge and Bubenbergplatz. Photograph by Martin Hesse. Reference: FN.G.A.243

50,000 items, 16th —21st century

The Graphics Collection and the Photographic Archives comprise about 50,000 watercolours, drawings, graphic prints and photographs, including a collection of national importance of about 150 daguerreotypes (photographs on copper), ambrotypes (photographs on glass) and pannotypes (photographs on waxed cloth).  


The Reichenbach Castle with Bühlikofen in the background. Reference: Gr.A.1053

The main focuses of the Graphics Collection and Photographic Archives are the historical topography of the City of Berne, its surroundings, Bernese country estates and Bernese portraits. Themes from arts and crafts, cultural history and other areas are also represented. The biggest individual collections are the postcards and over 11,000 negatives from the photographic archives of the postcard publisher Franco-Suisse.

The Burgerbibliothek of Berne also holds private archives and partial bequests from artists, including Friedrich Walthard (1818—1870), Rudolf Münger (1862—1929), Ernst Kreidolf (1863—956), Victor Surbek (1885—1975), Paul Boesch (1889—1969), Rudolf Mumprecht (*1918) and Daniel de Quervain (*1937).

Please book in advance to use the collection.


Topographic content and subdivision by subject 

City of Berne

The collection comprises: 

  • Topographic views from the 16th century onwards, predominantly historic town plans from the 19th and 20th centuries  
  • Architectural drawings, including those by Erasmus Ritter (1726—1805) and Albrecht von Stürler (1705—1748)
  • Photographs, including by Friedrich Gerber (1797—1872), Carl Durheim (1810—1890), Hermann Völlger (1855—1930) and Moritz (working 1860—1894) and Emil Vollenweider (1849—1921)

Canton Berne and the rest of Switzerland
The collection comprises:

  • Views of patrician estates in the canton of Berne
  • Cultural-historic images and photographs (regional traditions, costumes, farmhouses) of canton Berne
  • Topographic views from the rest of Switzerland 
  • Maps and plans (national maps, tithe maps, forest maps, building plans)
  • Photographic collections including by Albert Stumpf (1867—1951) and Jean Moeglé (1853—1938) 


The views from abroad are mainly associated with the following names: 

  • Theodor Zeerleder (1820—1868), drawings and watercolours 
  • Horace Edouard Davinet (1839—1922), collection of stereo photographs 
  • Cécile (1855—1929) and Eduard (1849—1926) von Rodt, photographic collection 

Subject areas 

All the images are indexed by subject area, even where they mainly depict topographic features. Subject areas include: occupations and manual work, folk art including crafts and customs, coats of arms and genealogy including family trees, Gotthelf illustrations, plants and animals and many more. 


Online Archive Catalogue