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Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut
Preussischer Kulturbesitz

Roof view froma distance

Photographic Expeditions of Teobert Maler in Mexico during the 19th Century

CoordinationDr. Gregor Wolff

Die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien (BKM)

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1. Co-applicant


2. Project Group


  • Dr. Iken Paap   
  • Dr. Gregor Wolff   

IAI staff

  • Gudrun Schumacher   


3. Short description

Point of departure

Teobert Maler (1842-1917) is considered to be one of the most important research photographers of the 19th Century. No other person has ever discovered and documented as many unknown Maya ruins as he has. Even today, his photographs are an important witness for studies on the architecture and inscriptions of the Maya civilization. It was a number of decades later before many of the ruins that he had photographed, described and sketched were visited by researchers again. Frequently it was then discovered that the building had been damaged even more or had completely collapsed. For this reason, Maler's photos and sketches are also an extremely important and unique source of material for modern archeology. This explains the lasting scientific interest in their existence.
The IAI possesses some 2,700 photographs, 7 manuscripts, 15 notebooks, 145 sketches or plans, about 230 pages of correspondence and 370 pages of loose sheets of notes. 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 Maler pieces and their availability in the Digital Collections of the IAI will create excellent conditions for future research Projects.


The scientific and formal cataloguing that is planned for the photographic works and written legacy of Teobert Maler as well as for all the important publications in the context of his work and the digitalization of the material will make it available for scientific study for the first time because a large portion of the documents were not published or were simply not available. The current rules for the cataloguing of literary archives and autographs will enable the relocation of the complete collection under optimal conditions in terms of conservation. Upon completion of the project, information will also be available for research purposes via the portals Europeana, the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek (the German Digital Library) and the SPK-Digital.

Task Schedule

Cataloguing is planned to be quantity-based according to themes, regions and factual portfolios. There are no plans for cataloguing the photographs and correspondence individually. The rear sides of the photographs will also be digitalized because these contain handwritten information. After digitalization has been completed, the bindings of the over 100 year old manuscripts, which are already badly damaged, and the travel and note books will be restored.

Expected Results

The preparation of a publication / an illustrated book is planned as well as the presentation of the collection in the Digital Collections of the IAI and the presentation of the results of projects at a scientific conference.

Teobert Maler in the Digital Collections IAI



4. Products


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