Launched at the end of the 1950s, Oberhausen's collection quickly gained in importance - also thanks to good cooperation with Eastern European countries. As a rule, award-winning films were purchased. German short films were sometimes only acquired on loan. Thus, the collection grew to over 2,000 titles with over 3,000 copies today. With over 100 films from the former Yugoslavia alone, plus copies from over 60 countries from Egypt to Zambia, the uniqueness and importance of this international short film collection is indicated.
Film nations such as the ČSSR, Great Britain, France, Italy, Poland, USA are represented as well as important names from the festival history, from Kenneth Anger and Santiago Álvarez to Walerian Borowczyk, Jürgen Böttcher, Maya Deren, Claude Goretta, Werner Herzog, Takahiko Iimura, Romuald Karmakar, Alexander Kluge, Jan Lenica, George Lucas, Toshio Matsumoto, Matthias Müller, Roman Polanski, Alain Resnais, Zbigniew Rybczyński, Aleksandr Sokurov, Jan Švankmajer to István Szabó, Alain Tanner and Želimir Žilnik. The archive also includes a collection of copies from the Oberhausen Sports Film Festival (1968-75) and the MuVi Awards since 1999.
Viewing facilities for all existing formats are available in the archive. The Short Film Festival strives to maintain its archive in accordance with the regulations of the FIAF (Féderation International des Archives du Film) and to make the copies available for distribution and academic institutions.
The photo archive of the Festival has been systematically revised and continuously expanded in recent years. It now has around 3,000 photoprints and more than 7,000 digital images since 1954. From the flagging of the Luise-Albertz-Halle, Werner Herzog at the accreditation desk, the press conference on the "Oberhausen Manifesto," the turbulent discussions surrounding the screening of Hellmuth Costard's Besonders Wertvoll to the cinema performances of the thematic program "Film ohne Film" (2014): the history of the festival and the small and large events on the fringe have been extensively recorded in pictures. Photos can be viewed on site free of charge by appointment. Many of the photos are also available for reprint. Background information such as correspondence and important documents on the festival's history are available for scholarly research purposes.
In addition to the festival's own publications and photos, the archive of the Short Film Festival also preserves the festival posters. The collection dates back to 1975, and some of the posters were designed by renowned artists such as Jerzy Kucia. Occasionally, the poster archive also has artistically designed film posters, such as Vlado Kristl's "Half the Wealth for Half the Beauty" (1994). An on-site viewing can be arranged by appointment. Some of the posters are also available for printing.