The Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History promotes scientific research in the field of Italian and global history of art and architecture. Established as a private foundation by Henriette Hertz (1846–1913), it was inaugurated in 1913 as a research center of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft. Today, the Bibliotheca Hertziana is part of the Human Sciences Section of the Max Planck Society and is considered one of the world's most renowned research institutes for art history.
The research of the department Michalsky revolves around questions concerning historical concepts of space and their transformation in Premodernity. One geographical area of special interest in this context is Southern Italy, specifically Naples and the Mediterranean region.
The research focus of the department Weddigen lies on the global ramifications of Italian art from the early modern period to modernism, in the expansion of the Bibliotheca Hertziana's research activities toward modern and contemporary art, in questions of materiality and mediality, in the intellectual history of the discipline of art history and in digital art history.
The library holds one of the world's most important collections of research and source literature on the post-antique art and cultural history of Italy and the Mediterranean region, as well as an archive of literary bequests. First created in the late 19th century as the library of Henriette Hertz, founder of the Bibliotheca Hertziana, the collection today ranges from rare incunabula to genuine digital publications.
The Photographic Collection holds more than 870,000 photographs and negatives along with digital images of Italian art from the late antique period until the present day. The core areas of the collection include Roman topography, the Artists department, architectural drawings and drawings after the antique and the complete Corpus Photographicum of Drawings (Corpus Gernsheim).