The majority of Huis Doorn's photo collection is part of the inventory of German Emperor Wilhelm II. After his escape and abdication in November 1918, he had shipped the collection from his castles in Berlin and Potsdam to Doorn in 59 railway-cars.
The collection consists of around 200 albums, including hundred luxury albums, loose and framed photos, some daguerreotypes, 250 photo plates, as well as many autochromes. A cage screen with around one hundred portraits of the European high nobility
dating from the turn of the previous century is also included.
This unique photo collection can be divided roughly into three categories.
First, there are the photos from the 19th and early 20th century. The family photos include the earliest photographs (1845) of the collection: two valuable golden daguerreotypes, portraits of Wilhelm's father, the later Emperor Friedrich III and his sister Luise. This category includes also photos of his grandmother Queen Victoria and her family, adolescent portraits of the emperor himself and official portraits from the period of his regency (1888 - 1918). The bound luxury albums include pictures of official occasions. The Emperor hired well-known photographers such as Ottomar Anschütz and the Tellgmann Brothers.
A very unique photo collection dates from World War I, which was annotated shortly after the war and collected in 23 binders. These 2,400 photos form a chronological pictorial report of the Emperor's activities, including his visits to the Western and Eastern front - albeit in safe distance from the frontlines.
The third part of the collection dates between 1919 and 1941; the year the Emperor died. Wilhelm had also pictures taken of himself and his surroundings in Doorn, mostly by German photographers. Furthermore, he was sent albums and photos from Germany. In contrast to the representative character of the collection up to 1914, many of the pictures made in Doorn allow a glimpse into the private lives of Wilhelm and Hermine.
After the Emperor's death in 1941 a small part of the collection was taken to Germany. Since 1953 the remaining part is managed by the trust "Stichting tot beheer van Huis Doorn" [Foundation for the Management of Huis Doorn], as part of the museum collection.