Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut
Preussischer Kulturbesitz

Historical photo of textile machine

Dr. Gregor Wolff

Dr. Gregor Wolff

Ethnology and Amerindian Studies


+ 49 30 266 45 3100


+ 49 30 266 35 1550



1. Research Interests

  • Ethnohistory, ethnology, the economic and social history of the Andean region, the history of science, the Papers & Manuscripts collection of the Ibero-American Institute


2. Current Projects

Collectors and photographers: Eduard Seler (1849-1922) und Caecilie Seler-Sachs (1855-1935)

Eduard Seler is viewed as the founder of Ancient American studies in Germany. He studied mathematics, mineralogy, botany and paleontology and obtained his doctorate in 1887 with a dissertation on Mayan languages at the University of Leipzig. In 1894 he was awarded a post-doctorate (habilitation) with a thesis on pictographic script in Mexico at Friedrich Wilhelm University, Berlin (today’s Humboldt University of Berlin). Caecilie Seler-Sachs was a German specialist in ancient American studies, author and photographer. She married Eduard Seler in 1884 and joined him on trips around Central and South America. They travelled to Mexico six times between 1887 and 1910 and amassed several large archaeological collections (as well as a botanical collection of approx. 6,000 plants). During this time, an extensive "picture archive" of 230 boxes was also created. This contains important pictorial documents (photos as prints of original photos and cut-outs of published photos, postcards, sketches and drawings), which have only been available for research to a limited extent so far. A great part of the photographs were taken by Caecilie Seler-Sachs. At the moment, there are a number of research projects being undertaken that build on the estate. However, this can only be partially included due to the fact that formal cataloguing and digitalization is still missing. The formal cataloguing, digitalization of the pieces and their availability in the Digital Collections of the IAI will create excellent conditions for future research projects.Duration: 2021-2023.


3. Publications

Monographs and Editions

Articles and contributions in books

  • „Spurensuche – Wie ein Nachlass aus Mérida nach Berlin gelangte“.

    In: Wolff, Gregor / Kohl, Frank Stephan: Teobert Maler. Historische Fotografien aus Mexiko und Guatemala. Berlin: Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut, 2018, 23-32.

  • “¿Movilidad invisibilizada? Acerca de la circulación de objetos visuales mapuches”.

    in: B. Göbel / G. Chicote (Hrsg.): Transiciones inciertas. Archivos, conocimientos y transformación digital en América Latina. La Plata: FAHCE, Universidad Nacional de la Plata, Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut 2017, 299-314.

  • Jean Laurent – Photographer to her Majesty the Queen (“Fotógrafo de S.M. la Reina“)

    In: Wolff, Gregor (Ed.): Explorers and Entrepreneurs behind the Camera. The stories behind the pictures and the photographs from the Image Archive of the Ibero-American Institute. Berlin: Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut, 2015, S. 8-15

  • Adventurer with bike and camera: Sumner W. Matteson (1867-1920)

    In: Wolff, Gregor (Ed.): Explorers and Entrepreneurs behind the Camera. The stories behind the pictures and the photographs from the Image Archive of the Ibero-American Institute. Berlin: Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut, 2015, S. 136-145. (co-authored with Anja Müller and Gudrun Schumacher)

  • "Das akustische Gedächtnis Lateinamerikas. Die Phonothek des Ibero-Amerikanischen Instituts und die Sammlung Egon Ludwig"

    In: Forum Musikbibliothek: Beiträge und Informationen aus der musikalischen Praxis. Berlin: Ortus Musikverlag, 1.2014 (35. Jahrg.): 17-22.

  • "Ethnologie Argentiniens und internationale Wissenszirkulation. Nachlass von Robert Lehmann-Nitsche, 1872-1938." (co-authored with Katrin Hoffmann)

    Jahrbuch der Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Vol. XLV/2007, Berlin 2008: 311-322.

  • "Legados y colecciones especiales del Instituto Ibero-Americano de Berlín."

    Anuario Americanista Europeo (Paris) 2 (2004): 199-221.

  • "Der Nachlass von Roberto Arlt im Ibero-Amerikanischen Institut" (co-authored with Friedhelm Schmidt-Welle).

    Hispanorama 103 (2004): 118-120.

  • "Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut."

    In Kulturschätze – verlagert und vermißt. Eine Bestandsaufnahme der Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz 60 Jahre nach Kriegsende, edited byKlaus Dieter Lehmann and Günther Schauerte, 84-85. Berlin: SPK, 2004 (Russ. Ausg. u. d. T.: Ibero-Amerikanskij Institut).

  • "Der späte Ruhm einer literarischen Ikone" (co-authored with Friedhelm Schmidt-Welle).

    Wirtschaft und Wissenschaft, 11. Jahrg. H. 3 (2003): 14-15. Essen.

  • "Der Nachlass Max Uhle im Ibero-Amerikanischen Institut Berlin."

    In Peru zur Jahrtausendwende: Kultur, Bildung, Sprache, Musik und Kirche; Beiträge eines Kolloquiums anlässlich des 100. Geburtstags von Maria Reiche vom 14.-15. Mai 2003 in DresdenBorn, edited by Joachim, 215-225. TU - Dresden.

  • "Der Nachlass August Weberbauer im Ibero-Amerikanischen Institut."

    Jahrbuch der Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, vol. XXXVII/2001, Berlin 2002: 339-343.

  • "Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut: DFG ermöglicht den Ankauf eines wertvollen Nachlasses."

    Bibliotheksdienst, 35 (2001), 1: 84-85.

  • "Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut - Nachlass August Weberbauer Erworben."

    ZfBB, 48 (2001), 2: 162.

  • El legado de Roberto Arlt en el Instituto Ibero-Americano."

    In: Anuario Americanista Europeo 4-5 (2006/07): 361-371. (With Friedhelm Schmidt-Welle)


4. Curriculum Vitae

Since 04/ 2014

Associated Member of the Cluster of Excellence "Image Knowledge Gestaltung. An Interdisciplinary Laboratory", Humboldt Universität Berlin, funded by the DFG


Director of the Department Special Collections at the Ibero-American Institute (Art Prints and Illustrations Collection, Audio Library , Collection from Corporate Bodies, Film Colecction, Image Archive, Map Collection, Newspaper Clippings Collection , Papers and Manuskripts, Poster Collection), 2000-2021 specialist for Amerindian studies, country specialist for Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador (senior library officer)

1997 - 1999

Training program for senior-level service at research libraries.


Received Ph.D. in Amerindian studies from the Latin American Institute of the Free University of Berlin

1993 - 1995

Collaborated on the Proyecto-Franco-Aleman (CNRS/DFG): Contribución a la elaboración de una historia regional del extremo norte del Peru (Contribution to elaborate a regional history of the extreme north of Peru)

1990 - 1993

Tutor for Amerindian studies at the Latin American Institute FU Berlin


Studied anthropology, ethnology and modern history the Free University of Berlin.

2021 || Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut Preussischer Kulturbesitz