The collections of the photo library

BALaT actually counts 700 000 negatives! The rest of the collection is being digitalized. Prints of all our photographs are available for consultation in the reading room. There are four main types of collections:

Belgian public collections


This collection is the result of several campaigns led as part of the photographic inventory. It includes museums, churches, abbeys, the CPAS (Public Social Welfare Centres), schools, municipal administrations, Ministries, archeological sites, etc.

The non-movable and natural heritage is included in this inventory: public and private buildings, memorials and tombstones, parks, landscapes, watercourses, etc.

All Walloon public collections are entirely digitalized. The Flemish and Brussels collections are being digitalized.




Throughout the years, the photo library at KIK-IRPA has grown with the acquisition of collections from different photographers specialised in documentary art photography. The photo library also acquired the ‘non artistic’ negatives of these collections insofar as they were considered useful for the cultural history of our country. There is a wide variety of subjects, categorised into twelve main topics: animals, astronomy, ceremonies, flora, folklore, war, portraits, professions, entertainment, sports, vehicles and the Royal Family.

An exhibition: In 2005, KIK-IRPA organized an exhibition entitled Dynasty and Photography (Dynastie et Photographie), which highlighted the collection honouring the Royal Family. It exposed the important moments of the history of our country as well as the daily life of Belgians.



Public collections abroad

This fund includes works of art of important artists (many of them Early Netherlandish paintings) from collections in museums, churches, galleries, etc. around the world (around 60 countries in total). Some aspects of non-movable and natural heritage are also part of our collections. The collections from Spain, Portugal and Italy have been entirely encoded in our database.

An exhibition: between September 11 and November 6 2008 KIK-IRPA exhibited a selection of its photos from Italy at the Academia Belgica in Rome: Impresioni d’Italia. It was a unique occasion to admire photos of Italian landscapes and cities, works of art by Italian artists or even works of art by Belgian artists inspired by Italy.


Private collections in Belgium or abroad


Collections of individuals, associations and private companies offer different aspects of the cultural heritage: fine arts, furniture, textiles, goldsmith’s art, etc.

They sometimes shelter hidden treasures having a major interest for the country. Many owners have worked with KIK-IRPA to make the inventory of their art possessions. For those who prefer, KIK-IRPA guarantees anonymity for the study and the inventory.