The photographers of the KIK-IRPA

Since the creation of the photography workshop of the Royal Museums of Art and History in 1900, more than 500 photographers contributed to the collection of the photo library. This work of more than a century has known periods of intense growth:

- 1927: purchase of 10 011 negatives taken in the framework of a German photography mission during World War II.


- World War II: nearly 160 000 negatives are taken​​. The “official” photographers, civil servants working for the museums, intensify their missions with the aid of “unofficial” photographers who were paid per negative and circulated all across the country. The General Commission for the Reconstruction of the Country and the General Commission for Passive Air Protection finance photographic campaigns, but also fund the purchase of negative by professional and amateur photographers. Some of these images date back to the late nineteenth century.

- After the war, the use of photography is diversified: technical photography and scientific imaging are implemented to document the conservation-restoration of art works.

- 1966-1979: photographic campaign for the establishment of the Photographic inventory of religious buildings: 250 000 photographs are taken by photographers of the KIK-IRPA and freelance photographers.

- Today a team of photographers continues this valuable work of inventory and documentation of interventions on art works. They also take photographs  for research projects of the KIK-IRPA.

- The classification of the archives, started in recent years, allows to better contextualize all these photographs.

Clément Dessart (1891-1973), the first photographer to receive a page on our website, is an exemplary figure of the "unofficial photographer" of the Second World War. He later started a career as a freelance photographer. Thanks to his daughter and assistant, Marie-Amica Dessart, the KIK-IRPA was able to gather all the work of this talented photographer. It is currently being prepared for public access.