HomeCollection managementResearch


Restauratie scene c Guido Voet


Photo preservation is a recent discipline that involves a variety of materials with their own characteristic properties. Moreover, photography is still in full development, which makes the preservation and management of photographs, both analogue and digital, complex and raises a number of issues. Through its own research, publications, recommendations and workshops, the FOMU’s restoration studio wants to disseminate its expertise and make it available to the public.

One of the restoration studio’s core tasks is extending and guaranteeing the collection’s quality and longevity. Carefully controlling light, air quality, humidity and temperature significantly reduce the number of risks. With the Lieven Gevaert Tower, a modern climate-friendly depot named after the Flemish pioneer of the photographic industry, the FOMU built the first low-energy depot for photography in Europe. In this way, the growing collection can be preserved in a sustainable manner.

P 2012 0122
Frank Philippi, Computerzaal bij verzekeringsmaatschappij De Schelde, Antwerpen, 1963, Collectie Fotomuseum Antwerpen, P/2012/122, © Frank Philippi / SABAM


The FOMU is conducting research into the application of Visual Recognition Services (VRS) to the basic registration and iconographic disclosure of heritage objects. We examine the extent to which VRS can supplement, or even replace, 'manual' registration. To this end, the FOMU cooperates with digital heritage expert PACKED and technical coordinator Datable. The methodology is being tested on image collections of four substantive partners: the FOMU itself, Erfgoedcel Brugge, the MoMu and Netwerk Oorlogsbronnen, who each supply a thousand images that are analysed by one or more VRSs.

In this way, the FOMU hopes to render the traditional registration process more efficient, and make the collections accessible in alternative ways. The methodology and technical detail are such that VRS can be applied to different heritage collections. The results of the research will be shared with the broad heritage sector.

Contact: Project Manager Alexander Derveaux–

P 1988 0133 bijgesneden
Dubois de Nehaut, Louis-Pierre-Théophile (Chevalier), Het reproduceren van schilderijen in het Sint-Janshospitaal te Brugge, stereokaart, 1858, Collectie Fotomuseum Antwerpen, P/1988/133


The Directory of Belgian Photographers is an extensive online database with information about Belgian photographers who were active in Belgium between the birth of photography in 1839 and Belgium’s 75th anniversary in 1905. The database currently contains 5,400 records and is the extensive and corrected online version of the Directory of Photographers in Belgium 1839-1905, compiled by Steven F. Joseph, Tristan Schwilden and Marie-Christine Claes, and published by the FOMU in 1997. The same authors were actively involved in the first online edition.

The FOMU wants to further expand the database with information about Belgian photographers from 1905 to the present day. The ultimate goal is to offer an online database about Belgian photographers or photographers who were active in Belgium that is as complete as possible. That is why we will systematically update and improve the database, not only with text, but also with images.



The FOMU applies the principle of value-based heritage management in its decision-making process regarding the preservation and safeguarding of the collection. That is why the FOMU has started a valuation process for its collection. Valuing the collection helps to gain a more detailed insight into the history, meaning and (development) potential of the collection. The results of a valuation process are used, for example, to give direction to the collection policy, but also to set priorities in terms of conservation, or to improve the emergency plan. The FOMU is also gaining expertise in the area of collection valuation based on separate projects.

For example, although the Agfa-Gevaert Historical Archives, which were donated to the FOMU in 2015, have a special significance to the FOMU, not all sub-collections ideally located for optimal access in the FOMU. On the basis of valuation, various sub-collections have since been relocated and specific actions are being taken for the other sub-collections.

Thanks to the financial support of the Flemish Community, the FOMU has investigated the problem of rating large collections of slide positives and negatives. In this context, a number of tools were tested for their employability in carrying out valuations, including the contact sheet method to digitise in bulk at low resolution and a condition assessment tool to quickly collect objective information about a collection.