When the Bauhaus-Archiv was established, its central task was to cultivate discourse on the works produced at the Bauhaus with respect to their historical context and influence. Consequently, since its founding hour, it has collected original documents – letters, manuscripts, transcriptions of classroom instruction, printed materials and audio-visual media. The core of the collection consists of larger and partial estates of former members of the Bauhaus, some of whom gifted their possessions to the archive during their lifetimes. This includes perhaps most prominently Walter Gropius’s extensive private archive on the history of the Bauhaus during his time in Weimar and Dessau. Many other partial estates of former Bauhaus members followed in later years.

In the meantime, this extensive collection now boasts more than 650,000 sheets and serves to document the life and works of over 500 instructors and students of the Bauhaus. The Bauhaus-Archiv also collects documents on persons and institutions that were directly related to the Bauhaus, e.g. the successors of the Bauhaus in the United States and the various reformed art schools in Germany.