The Warburg Institute and German partners receive €6.3 million grant from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Thursday 21 June 2018

Bilderfahrzeuge logo

Project will study the migration of images, objects, texts and ideas

Since 2013, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung – BMBF) has funded the international research project 'Bilderfahrzeuge – Warburg's Legacy and the Future of Iconology', which is dedicated to art historical and cultural historical research.

The Warburg Institute at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, serves as the project’s central hub in collaboration with the Max Weber Stiftung, the Universität Hamburg / Warburg-Haus, the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, and the Universität Basel. Following a highly successful first phase of the project, the BMBF will provide a further round of funding for another five years (until 2023) of €6.3 million.  

The project’s central aim is to investigate the migration of images, objects, texts and ideas across geographical and chronological borders. The work of the German-Jewish cultural and art historian Aby Warburg (1866–1929) and his Library of Cultural Studies (Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg - KBW) will remain at the heart of the research. New emphases during the second phase include 'political iconology: images as agents in the political sphere,' 'global image vehicles and migrating memories', and 'art and nation'.

‘We are grateful to the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research for its renewed support of our work’, said Professor Bill Sherman, director of the Warburg Institute. ‘It is a great boost to the work of the Warburg and work on Warburg, and a welcome show of support for Anglo-German cooperation at the time when it is most needed.‘

‘I’m delighted both for the Warburg and for the School of Advanced Study that the Ministry of Education and Research will continue their support for this excellent joint project‘, said Professor Rick Rylance, dean and chief executive of the School of Advanced Study (SAS) and pro-vice chancellor for research in the University of London. ‘The collaborative relationship produces outstanding results, but it also indicates the way ahead in divided times. We thank the Ministry for their invaluable contribution.‘

Internationalisation of the humanities
Through their generous support of the 'Bilderfahrzeuge' project, the BMBF supports young academics on a national and international level, facilitating pathways into international research, increasing their mobility, and improving cooperation between European research organisations and institutions.  

Particular responsibility of Germany
At a time when Brexit is redefining political realities, the project and its members strengthen interrelationships between the German and British humanities and sciences. The support the project receives from the German government through the BMBF underscores Germany’s particular responsibility towards the legacy of Aby Warburg: the KBW was forced to leave Germany in 1933, finding a new home at the University of London.

The project
The project is based on the conceptual foundation of the term 'Bilderfahrzeuge' (literally 'image vehicle'). This metaphor was conceived by the German-Jewish cultural and art historian Aby Warburg, who was attempting to describe the way in which image formulas have been multiplied and disseminated through time and to distant places. Within the project, the migration of images, objects, texts, and ideas is examined within the formation, transformation, and interaction of cultures. The research will produce monographs, regular workshops, and annual conferences as well as a lecture series at the Warburg Institute.

The majority of the project’s fifteen research associates, supported in partnership with the Max Weber Stiftung, are based at the Warburg Institute. In Germany, research associates are based at the Warburg-Haus of the Universität Hamburg and the Institut für Kunst- und Bildgeschichte at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

The directors responsible for the project are Professors Andreas Beyer (Universität Basel, who also functions as the Speaker of the project), Horst Bredekamp (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), Uwe Fleckner (Universität Hamburg, Warburg-Haus), Bill Sherman (The Warburg Institute, University of London), and Gerhard Wolf (Kunsthistorisches Institut Florenz/ Max-Planck-Institut). Permanent Guests on the directorial board are Professors Charlotte Klonk and Michaela Marek (both Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) and Professor Hubert Locher (Deutsches Dokumentationszentrum für Kunstgeschichte – Bildarchiv Foto Marburg).


Further information and enquiries, please contact: Professor Dr Andreas Beyer ( or Professor Bill Sherman (