Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max Planck Institute

Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max Planck Institute

The KHI (Kunsthistorisches Institut) in Florence is one of the oldest research institutions dedicated to the history of art and architecture in Italy, where facets of European, Mediterranean and global history are subjected to close scrutiny. Founded in 1897 upon the private initiative of a group of independent scholars, it has been under the auspices of the Max Planck Society since 2002. In addition to numerous individual research projects, those funded by third parties and a range of international collaborations with universities, museums and research institutes, the Institute provides a platform for major long-term projects whose subject matter ranges from Late Antiquity to the Modern Age. The promotion of international young scientists and academics is also high on its agenda. With its full programme of public academic events and up to 100 visitors daily, the KHI is a unique, open platform for lively, international and interdisciplinary academic exchange.


Via Giuseppe Giusti 44
50121 Florenz, Italien
Phone: +39 055 24911-1
Fax: +39 055 24911-55

PhD opportunities

This institute has no International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS).

There is always the possibility to do a PhD. Please contact the directors or research group leaders at the Institute.

The reverse side of the medal

Despite its prestige, the UNESCO world heritage title has some drawbacks

Pompeii through the ages

Scientists from Fraunhofer and Max Planck institutes are studying the history of the restoration of Pompeii, which has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1997, and are developing innovative materials and processes for conserving the city’s ancient sites.


Researching the old to develop the new – what better place to do this than in Florence? At the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max Planck Institute, the “Ethics and Architecture” research group led by Brigitte Soelch and Hana Gruendler invites discussion of the history and theory of architecture and the applicability of its teachings to the present and future of building.

The Spanish Conquistadors found it surprisingly easy to conquer the New World. However, it required more than violence and cruelty to rule the territory. A team of researchers headed by Thomas Duve at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History is investigating the media through which the Spanish crown consolidated its dominion. Meanwhile, an international research group led by Carolin Behrmann at the Max Planck Institute for Art History in Florence is studying the importance of images in the consolidation and legitimation of law with a focus on Early Modern European history.

In an age of modern anatomy atlases and freely available online body-browsers, Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings of organs and body parts done with quill, ink and red chalk may strike us as aesthetically pleasing, yet antiquated. Nevertheless, almost everyone in Germany carries a reproduction of his famous Vitruvian Man with them – on their health insurance card. Alessandro Nova, Director at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, on the other hand, explores Leonardo’s work in the light of the scientific knowledge it generates.

Art history has traditionally been focused on the study of European artifacts. The links and interactions between artifacts in Central Asia, India and the Mediterranean were largely ignored. Researchers working with Gerhard Wolf, Hannah Baader and Avinoam Shalem at the Art History Institute in Florence (Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, MPI) are seeking to break down these boundaries and open up new, global research perspectives.

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Pompeii Arch&Lab – Restoration Archive and Exposition Laboratory

2018 Cianciolo Cosentino, Gabriella; Wolf, Gerhard

Cultural Studies

This interdisciplinary project of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz investigates from both a technological and a historical-cultural perspective the complex modern history of the archaeological site of Pompeii, its restorations and its musealization. Combining the expertise of the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics in Holzkirchen (Munich) and the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, the main aim of this project is to contribute to a more profound understanding of cultural heritage issues and to the development of sustainable methods for the conservation of monumental heritage.


The research library for art history in global context

2017 Nova, Alessandro; Simane, Jan

Cultural Studies

To comply with the requirements of art-historical research, libraries have to adapt their services to the standards of digital publication formats and digital forms of communication. International collaboration is indispensable to meet these demands. The Kunsthistorische Institut in Florenz is prominently involved in a network of art libraries. Dozens of art libraries from 15 countries have managed to establish a virtual bibliographic database. Furthermore, the network tests innovative methods to visualize semantic and quantitative information in catalogue data.


Piazza e monumento: A project dedicated to an art-historical inquiry of the city

2016 Nova, Alessandro; Sölch, Brigitte

Cultural Studies

Piazzas make their appearances by rejecting the dense structure of buildings in the city, but they are never finished. They are rebuilt, overbuilt and "frequently future spatial potentialities of a square were already latent in its initial stage" (P. Zucker). Furthermore, they are depicted in a variety of images. So art history has both tasks, to analyze the structure of public squares and how they impact the city around them as well as to analyze images of piazzas and how they mould the idea and perception of the social and political dimension of the public space.


Jacopo Ligozzi (1547–1627) was regarded as a universal painter by his contemporaries. His colour drawings of flora and fauna from the Old and New World, produced for the Medicean court and Ulisse Aldrovandi, were famous. They demonstrate a descriptive mode of visualizing and generating knowledge, rather than mere imitations of nature. Ligozzi’s self-affirmation of his skill with pencil and brush is evidenced by the fact that he calls himself “miniator” in the signature on his monumental canvas in the Salone dei Cinquecento in Florence.


Florence is generally regarded as a Renaissance city, in fact even as the Renaissance powerhouse par excellence. In which light does this topos appear if Florentine urban space is placed at the focus of consideration?

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