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BALaT: Belgium's art history in one click

BALaT stands for Belgian Art Links and Tools, with a nod to Belgian architect Alphonse Balat. It is the centralised online database of the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage and provides a rich overview of Belgium's cultural heritage, with extensive search options.

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Why BALaT is unique?

  • Open Data: a web application accessible to everyone
  • Search multiple databases simultaneously
  • Extensive search and filter options
  • New objects and data added daily
  • Search and download over 750,000 photos of Belgium's cultural heritage free of charge
  • Over 80,000 books, magazines and articles
  • Biographies of more than 6,300 Belgian artists
  • An extensive directory of persons and institutions
  • Search in French or Dutch

What can you find in BALaT?

Via BALaT, you can search several databases simultaneously.

  • The online photo library contains more than 750,000 photos related to Belgium's cultural heritage.
  • The library catalogue contains 80,000 books and articles on art history, conservation and scientific analysis.
  • In the Dictionary of Belgian painters Dictionnaire des peintres belges du XIVe siècle à nos jours : depuis les premiers maîtres des anciens Pays-Bas méridionaux et de la Principauté de Liège jusqu'aux artistes contemporains, you can read all about the life and work of some 6,300 Belgian artists from the 14th century to the present day.
  • The directory of persons and institutions features nearly 200,000 artists, researchers, conservator-restorers, collectors, museums, churches, and historical and fictional characters depicted in works of art.
  • Furthermore, you will find online sources such as doctoral theses, publications, repertoires and projects.
Publications

How to use BALaT

The database allows you to search by metadata such as object name, place of the exhibit, title or iconography. Filters allow you to refine your search results.

Search results are linked to data. You will find a description for each object and possibly the intervention file number.

Photos can be downloaded free of charge. Old images that have not yet been digitised or photos protected by copyright can be ordered using the request form or consulted on-site in the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage reading room.

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The goal: an information portal on Belgium's heritage

At the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage, we strongly believe in Open Science: making research data and publications available to researchers and the general public. BALaT is supplemented daily with new items and improved data. We are also working on linking our other archives to BALaT. Every day, the data produced by our researchers are carefully preserved and accessible to all.

The HESCIDA project will make all of this scientific heritage data digitally accessible through BALaT. It will thus become an essential participatory tool for art historians and heritage scholars and an information portal on Belgium's heritage. And we plan to go even further. In the future, BALaT will be connected to other data sources in Belgium and abroad.