The confrontation with classical antiquity is a decisive characteristic of Western culture. Research into the afterlife of antiquity, especially in the Renaissance period, is one of the central themes of art historical research. For the "Census of Antique Works of Art and Architecture Known in the Renaissance", the scientific discussion always starts from the concrete ancient monument that was known under the respective temporal circumstances. The respective interpretation must be named under changing historical circumstances with the help of pictorial and written sources which have been handed down in numerous drawings, engravings, small bronzes, paintings, etc., i.e. pictorial sources or in written sources such as guide literature, inventories, personal notes, tracts, etc.
On the basis of an initiative by the Warburg Institute in London, the Census has set itself the task of opening up all genres of art, sculpture, painting, applied arts, and especially architecture, for the accomplishment of this task. The Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW) took over part of the project in January 2003 and is conducting the research in cooperation with Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.