The Information Centre of the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA) is the documentation centre for Belgium’s artistic heritage. It houses both a library and a photo library, and it manages the institute’s intervention files and archives. We are working hard to digitise the collection and make it available via the online BALaT database.
Versatile documentation centre
This photo archive is Belgium’s visual memory. It contains more than 1 million photos of movable and immovable heritage.
Here you will find works dedicated to art history, the conservation and restoration of works of art, and the chemical, physical and material research linked to art restoration.
BALaT is the central online catalogue of the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage. With a single click, you can consult several databases simultaneously: the photo library, the library, the Dictionnaire des peintres belges and much more.
Archive of intervention files
Search through the intervention files of the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage: more than 20,000 files of advice on art history, preliminary studies and conservation-restoration files. Accessible only by appointment via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Digitisation: the future of the library
The Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage photographers travel all over Belgium to immortalise the country’s heritage in pictures, the oldest of which date back to the late 19th century. Previously stored in physical formats, more than 900,000 images have been available in digital format since 2000. Digitalisation offers many advantages, as these pictures are easily searchable and available in high resolution, offering excellent added value for scientific research.
Did you know?
- We already had a large part of the collection digitised in the 1990s? These digital images are of lower quality than the images we produce today, but they are still beneficial.
- We are doing much more than photographing the old negatives, slides and other original media. They also benefit from meticulous conservation treatment for optimal preservation.
- We often collaborate with researchers for regional, national and even international projects.
- If the colours on the analogue photographs are sometimes chemically degraded, we use photo editing software to restore the original colours as much as possible.
- You can download most digital photos free of charge on BALaT.
Digital image retrieval
1. If the photos you are looking for are available online and of sufficient quality, just download them for free on BALaT.
2. Are the photos you are looking for available online, but you need a higher resolution?
If the photos you are looking for are available on BALaT, but you need a higher resolution, order them (for a fee) via this request form.
3. Are the photos you are looking for not yet available online?
You can visit the reading room of the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage to gain access to the entire collection. Would you like to have specific negatives of the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage digitised (for a fee) in the context of a research project? Please fill in the request form. Once we have received your payment, we will take the negatives out of our depot for cleaning, digitising and processing. This process takes about two weeks. You will then receive a link to download the images.
4. Can’t find what you were looking for?
Our team of art historians know the collection inside out. They will be happy to help you further.
You can request permission to reproduce the photos via this form. You can also find out more about copyright.
We are a partner in several major European digitisation projects:
BEINFRAT – Belgian Initiative to Broaden the Network for the French Translation of the Art and Architecture Thesaurus (2019-2021)
Pagode Europeana-China (2020-2021)
Do you have any questions or need more information? Please contact us!
The team of the Information Centre welcomes you in the reading room from Tuesday to Friday between 9:30 am and 12:30 pm and between 1:30 pm and 5:30 pm.
Contact and research assistance
Phone: +32 (0)2 739 67 54
Rules for the visitors of the Information Centre
Check the Information Centre's rules and regulations.
Looking for specific information about the Flemish Primitives?
Visit our Centre for the Study of the Flemish Primitives! By appointment only (by e-mail to infoXV@kikirpa.be).