As part of its Disclosing Architecture programme, Het Nieuwe Instituut is working on the cataloguing, digitisation and conservation of its photography collection, which comprises an estimated 300,000 prints. To expand our understanding of photographic processes and the conservation of modern photography, Het Nieuwe Instituut is participating in Collection Knowledge 2.0 – Photography, a partnership between institutions with photography collections, led by the Foundation for the Conservation of Contemporary Art (SBMK) and the University of Amsterdam (UvA). A series of identification days will take place in Het Nieuwe Instituut from 1 to 9 July. A three-day workshop in Amsterdam, during which participants will be fully acquainted with the various photographic processes, will be followed by seven days in Het Nieuwe Instituut’s storage facilities, using the newly acquired knowledge to identify works in the National Collection.
Het Nieuwe Instituut’s Photography Collection
The photographs in Het Nieuwe Instituut’s collection come from the seven hundred architectural archives it manages. Some were taken by the architects themselves, others were collected by them or commissioned for use in publications and lectures, as documentation of their work or simply as sources of inspiration. Some were clearly used in the design process, such as those that have been drawn over or written on. There are snapshots of (study) trips and family photos, as well as architectural photographs by renowned photographers such as Cas Oorthuys, Jan Versnel, Jaap d’Oliveira, Bernard Eilers and Hans Spies. The photographs exhibit an equally broad variety in terms of materials and conservation requirements, ranging from slides to digital files, from salt prints to modern chromogenic prints, from photographs in mint condition to those that have been rolled up, written on or glued down.
Photography Identification Tool
The aim of Collection Knowledge 2.0 – Photography is to sustainably preserve the photographs within the nation’s collections and to keep them accessible to the public. During the project, a method will be developed that will allow curators and collections management teams to identify and monitor a large part of the photography collections themselves and take the necessary measures with regards to conservation and storage. This Photography Identification Tool consists of a free digital platform with information about the most common and/or problematic photographic processes, mediums and finishes in combination with a set of physical samples with reference materials.
During the Practical Days, museum staff will learn to identify photographs based on their own collections under the supervision of researchers from the UvA. Their experiences will contribute to the development of the digital tool, which will be tested through subsequent research. At the end of this phase, each participating institution will have a sub-collection of identified and catalogued photographic works.
Disclosing Architecture is a six-year programme designed to improve the visibility and accessibility of Het Nieuwe Instituut’s architecture collection, made possible by a one-off investment from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The programme includes the registration, digitisation, conservation and, if necessary, restoration of all the photographic prints found in the various archives. Research is being conducted into the photographs’ materials and condition, and work is underway to formulate a set of criteria for restoration. We have also initiated a project to identify the photographs’ copyright status.
Collection Knowledge 2.0 – Photography is part of the Cultural Heritage Agency’s Heritage of the 20th Century programme and is coordinated by SBMK in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam. The partners within the project are thirteen institutions with photography collections: Amsterdam Museum, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Bonnefantenmuseum, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, De Domijnen, Frans Hals Museum | De Hallen, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Huis Marseille, Kröller-Müller Museum, Kunstmuseum Den Haag / Fotomuseum Den Haag, National Museum of World Cultures, Rabo Kunstcollectie and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. The project’s advisory partners are the Rijksmuseum, the National Archives and the Nederlands Fotomuseum.
Architectural Photography in the Collection
At the end of the 1990s, an inventory was taken of all the photographic material hidden in the collection of what was then the Netherlands Architecture Institute, today Het Nieuwe Instituut. The photographs were used by architects for publications, education and lectures, and were sometimes the bearers of new trends and ideologies. Drawing together prints and negatives from the different photographic archives allowed new insights into their historical and documentary value to emerge.
Through the Photographer’s Lens
A kaleidoscopic evening of architectural photography taking the State Archive of Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning as its starting point. Contributions by photographer Frank van der Salm, architect Jan Benthem, author Sanneke van Hassel, conservator Ellen Smit, and restorer Erica Jonkman.