Print Collection of Göttweig Monastery Brought Online

The print collection of Göttweig Monastery is Austria’s largest private collection of historical graphic art. The digitization of the collection is a project developed by the Department of Image Science at Danube University under the direction of Prof. Dr. Oliver Grau and conducted in cooperation with the Göttweig Monastery. On November 7, 2008, the state-of-the-art, entirely web-based database was made accessible to the public, and the first segment is now available at
The collection of prints at Göttweig Monastery, which itself was founded in 1083, is based on acquisitions made by various monks since the 15th century. The first report of graphic art kept in the monastery dates back to 1621, with an archive record that mentions a number of “tablets of copper engraving” (“Täfelein von Kupferstich”). The actual act of founding the collection is attributed to Abbot Gottfried Bessel whose systematic purchases in Austria and from abroad added a total of 20,000 pieces to the collection. Reaching to the present day, the print collection at Göttweig Monastery has grown to be the largest private collection of historical graphic art in Austria with more than 30,000 examples.

The curator and Benedictine monk, Prof. Dr. Martin Lechner continues to expand the collection with additions of historical prints. In summer 2002, the collection was made available to the Department of Image Science at Danube University for research and study purposes. Simultaneously, the digitization project was launched which culminated in the opening of the online database. This latest supplement to the department’s online content and services offers a representative selection of the collection’s examples, showcasing a variety of craftsmen, genres and techniques and thus opening up new research opportunities. For academic purposes, all of the database’s assets may be used free of charge and are also employed in the department’s teaching. A fee is requested only for commercial uses of high-resolution images as well as for reproduction licenses.
The Department of Image Science’s digitization center at the Göttweig Monastery uses the latest technology to scan paintings and prints from the collection (up to 72 million pixels). Newly digitized material is continually added to the database, which can be searched using an innovative interface, and search results can be forwarded directly to researchers via email. Past exhibitions of the Monastery’s print collection are gradually integrated into the database and can be accessed as a virtual exhibition online. The first exhibition “Under Your Shelter” was dedicated to representations of the Virgin Mary from the Monastery’s collection.
“Under Your Shelter – The Image of Mary in Göttweig” was curated by Prof. Dr. Martin Lechner and Mag. Michael Grünwald. It offers a comprehensive view of the history and background of the worship and adoration of the Virgin Mary. In four chapters, the exhibition introduces the visitor to the tradition of images of Marian Grace and its typology, drawing on numerous examples from Austria, Bavaria and other countries formerly belonging to the Austrian empire. The genre
“Marian life” is explained and illustrated by both single prints and print series. Finally, the close relationship between Mary and the saints of various convents is elaborated and explored.
Further inquiries:
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Oliver Grau (project director)
Head of the Department for Image Science
Danube University
Dr.-Karl-Dorrek-Strasse 30
3500 Krems, AUSTRIA
Mag. Christian Berndt (project coordinator)
Department for Image Science