The Academy's historically grown art collection with its more than 2000 works of art is the most significant component of the collections department. This collection, which came into the Academy's possession through donations, testamentary dispositions and purchases and for which an inventory was already compiled in the 19th century, is divided into painting and graphic art (1954 works of art), sculptures (628 works of art, including portrait busts, medals, plaques and commemorative coins) and arts and crafts (28 objects). The majority of the arts holding is electronically indexed in a database.
In the group of scholarly paintings, a good third of the works of art were created in the period from 1700 to 1945. In addition to the Leibniz painting already mentioned, the treasures include portraits of Academy President Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis (1698-1759) and Academy members Alexander von Humboldt (by Emma Gaggiotti-Richards), Karl Friedrich Gauss (by Christian Albrecht Jensen), Hermann von Helmholtz (by Hans Schadow) and Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff (by Reinhold Lepsius). However, the state of the heritage of portrait paintings is not such that one could speak of an even remotely complete collection of portrait paintings of at least the most important Academy members. For this reason, the management of the German Academy of Sciences in Berlin commissioned various artists (Bruno Bade, Bert Heller, Carlo Mense, Adolf Schorling) in 1952-1953 to create portraits of the most important Academy members, based on old models. The results are successfully created commissioned pieces, namely the oil paintings of Max Planck by H. Hensel and of Johannes Stroux, the first President of the German Academy of Sciences in Berlin, by B. Heller.
Among the sculptures, which include portrait busts and medals, are particularly valuable objects. One of these is undoubtedly the white marble bust of Voltaire commissioned by Frederick II and created in 1778 by the Parisian sculptor Jean Antoine Houdon. Three years later, the Prussian King donated it to the Academy of Sciences, where it was displayed it the meeting room. Other treasures in the portrait bust collection are the marble bust of Alexander von Humboldt (1850) by Christian Daniel Rauch, the bust of the Academy curator Count Ewald von Hertzberg (1804) by Johann Gottfried Schadow, the portrait busts of the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (1868, 1869) by Eduard Luerssen, the bronze statue of Max Planck (1949) by Bernhard Heiliger and the bronze bust of Albert Einstein (1981) by Heinrich Drake. The Planck bust (1939) by Walther Wolff was presented to the German Academy of Sciences in Berlin by the Max Planck Society on the occasion of the celebrations of the great physicist's 100th birthday in 1958. The Helmholtz bust (1891) by Adolf von Hildebrand was a gift to the Academy from Ellen von Siemens, the daughter of Hermann von Helmholtz, in 1922. The extensive medal collection (515 medals) owes its origin to the custom of academies to honour important scientific achievements by awarding medals and to commemorate outstanding scientists and scientific events by minting commemorative coins on important anniversaries. A special place among the treasures of the medal collection is occupied by the Helmholtz medal, which has been awarded by the Academy as an academic distinction since 1892, and the Leibniz Medal, which has been awarded since 1907. Significant in the graphic arts collection, are the portrait graphics of scientists. The portrait graphics listed here were purchased by the archive or came into the possession of the collections department as donations. It comprises a representative selection of portrait graphics. A complete, informative and partially pictorial representation of all our portrait prints is available on the archive website at the link: Online Reference - Collections Department - Portrait Graphics. They make up about one third of the holdings. In addition, there are numerous prints on topics from science and technology (274 sheets). The graphics collection also includes 37 graphics portfolios with a total of 392 graphics, some of which were commissioned by the Academy or its institutes. The graphics portfolio "Erschlossene Formen" [Discovered Forms] from 1974, for example, was commissioned by several scientific institutes to various artists. On the occasion of the 100th birthday of Albert Einstein, the Academy management published the graphics portfolio “Raum und Zeit” [Space and Time] in 1979.