Psychiatric University Hospital in Heidelberg - Voßstrasse 2

Phone: +49 (0) 6221 / 56-44 92
Fax: +49 (0) 6221 / 56-17 23
Website: http://www.prinzhorn.uni-

Prinzhorn Collection

During its search for authentic art at the beginning of the Twentieth Century, the Modern movement discovered not only "primitive art" and children's drawings, but also "psychotic art". Simultaneous to this a number of psychiatrists began eagerly collecting their patients' pictorial works, although this was principally in the hope that these could be used to assist diagnosis.

Hans Prinzhorn (1886-1933), who as an art historian and doctor was versed in both fields, is regarded nowadays as having pioneered an interdisciplinary approach. He was interested in questions of cultural anthropology, such as the origins of the artistic impulse, or the "schizophrenic sense of existence" he witnessed in contemporary Expressionist art. And he hoped to gain direct, primal insight into these questions through the patients' works. During the years after the First World War, he built up with the support of Karl Wilmanns, the head of the Psychiatric Department in Heidelberg, a unique collection of works from psychiatric hospitals. His richly illustrated book The Artistry of the Mentally Ill (Berlin 1922) not only documented the collection, but partly interpreted it and contextualised it through a critical examination of the prevailing culture. Here he departed once and for all from any questions about the relevance of the works for diagnostics. Instead, he emphasised that all of these creative phenomena are equally valid in psychological terms, and that some have recognisably artistic quality - thus allowing this disparaged "insane art" and its creators to be given a positive re-evaluation. Prinzhorn's great achievement was, in effect, to open up the blinkered viewpoint of p... [ Read all ]

 Permanent Collection Highlights (5)

 Click on the images to enlarge

Permanent Collection

Fund: The core collection comprises approximately 5000 pieces of art created by approx. 450 patients of psychiatric institutions. These pieces comprise mostly drawings, water colors, writings, like letters, notes, drafts of books and exercise books, which were often self-manufactured, as well as oil paintings, material manual work, collages and 70 wooden sculptures

Origin: Approx. 1880 until 1933; main collecting period between1919-22.

Authors/Artists: Approximately 450 Patients of all ages, social classes and professions. Only 20% of the artists are female. The duration of admission is diverse, sometimes lifelong or unclear because of missing case files.

Sites of Origin: State-run or private institutions and asylums in Germany, but also in Switzerland, Austria, some in Italy, France, Poland and Japan.

Affiliated Collections: In addition to the core Prinzhorn collection, permanent loans and donations were deposited in the Psychiatric Clinic, such as works created at the Rhine Federal Hospital Viersen (around 1900), wooden sculptures by Carl Genzel from the Wesphalia Psychiatric and Psychotherapeutic Clinic, Eickelborn near Lippstadt (approx. 1920), the Petschner Collection, Psychiatric Hospital Merxhausen, Bad Emstal (1960-1980), as well as works of art of contemporary patient-artists.

Documentation: A data bank of the collection is in process. A nearly complete photo library can be viewed by appointment. Almost 2/3 of the case files could be found and their main data could be compiled. (Access for scientific purposes).


For the Exhibition Program please phone: (+49) 06221 / 56-47 39


EURO 3,00
The entrance is free for members of the association "Freunde der Prinzhorn-Sammlung e.V." ("Friends of the Prinzhorn Collection")

Opening hours

Tuesday, Thursday through Sunday: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Wednesday: 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Monday: closed

Please look at "News" for current opening dates!

Getting there

Traffic Connections
Parkgarage P 15, Thibautstraße

no. 5, 22, 32, 35, (Bus-)Stop "Thibautstraße"

Please click here for a map http://www.prinzhorn.uni-hd.de/images/WEBKarte.jpg


Library / Study-Room
Tuesday through Friday 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. and with appointments.

Right by the Museum in the adjacent building, you will find a cafeteria.
Opening hours: Monday through Friday 7 a.m. - 5 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 11:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Museum internal and external photos (1)

Click on the images to enlarge


Public Hour
Do you have any questions, suggestions or criticism? We are looking forward to having a personal- or a telephone-conversation with you!
Tuesdays 3 p.m. - 4 p.m. Phone: (+49) 06221 / 56-47 25.


Biography of Hans Prinzhorn http://www.prinzhorn.uni-hd.de/geschichte_eng.shtml#prinzhorn

The history of the Prinzehorn Collection http://www.prinzhorn.uni-hd.de/geschichte_eng.shtml


Guided tours for the public will take place Sundays at 2 p.m. and Wednesdays at 6 p.m.
Extra-tours are possible with appointments via telephone: (+49) 06221 / 56-47 25.


The Friends of the Prinzhorn Collection
gives you a warm welcome

The Friends of the Prinzhorn Collection (registered) association has been founded to support the request for an own museum, to support its realization and finally its work.

The association intents to attract further public attention by
organizing events
supporting exhibitions
sponsoring publications (such as the CD Sprachl√∂chersterne, poetry and truth of mentally ill - Prinzhorn Collection, read by Herbert Fritsch, published by Wunderhorn, Heidelberg 1998, ‚ā¨ 18,50).

The charity Friends of the Prinzhorn Collection is a forum for art collectors, artitsts and scientists, for psychologists and psychiatrists and for all other friends of the collection!

Become member of the association! Help this unique collection to its proper attention.

For furher informations please get in touch with:

Dr. Thomas Röske, Sammlung Prinzhorn
Tel. 0049/6221/564726
E-Mail: Thomas_Roeske@med.uni-heidelberg.de