Digiporta: Digitisation and indexing of portrait photographs of the Deutsches Kunstarchiv (DKA: Geman art archive)

Project duration: 2012 – 2014
Project sponsorship: Leibniz Association under the “Joint Initiative for Research and Innovation“ (“Pakt für Forschung und Innovation“)

The Deutsches Kunstarchiv has among its holdings of close to 1,400 objects numerous photographic portraits from the private as well as professional lives of the respective persons. Until now, these have been difficult to locate and only a small number has been digitized. The project intends to digitize those portrait photographs most in demand, at the same time classifying them by metadata and making them available via internet database.

The indexing project “DigiPortA“ is a joint venture between nine archives of the Leibniz Association. Under the auspices of the archive of the Deutsches Museum, Munich, 33,000 portraits will be catalogued, thus making them available for research and the public in an innovative approach. The concentration on portraits of persons from the world of art, science and technology from the 19th and 20th centuries contributes to electronic biographics in a unique way. Via provenance verification and a description of the overarching collection, comprehensive source material will become available for biographical-historical research. Within this framework, the Deutsches Kunstarchiv will digitize and index more than 4,000 photographic portraits.

Project Progression

Until now it has been difficult to research photographs in the larger (sometimes unrecorded) folders of the Deutsches Kunstarchiv. Furthermore, they often are not well conserved and are digitized only in rare cases. The photographic portraits chosen for the project will be researched, their metadata submitted into the Archive’s database, linked with standard data, digitized and stored in an archival-quality manner. All aspects of the processing will be taken into account: handling of the photographs according to conservation needs, critical approach of source material, standardisation of personal data, observation of digital standards, incidental legal problems, forms of presentation, etc. Uniform standards of indexing will accomodate the connection to national internet portals.

Project Goal

The project goal is to make a contribution to the rediscovery of biographical research that does not solely focus on individual personalities but that considers concepts of groups and social ranks within their historical context. At hand of the genre “portrait“, the potential for co-operative cataloguing, digitisation and presentation of pictorial sources will be demonstrated for the category “electronic biographics“. At the same time, the importance of the archival materials in the institutions under the auspices of the Leibniz Association will be disclosed. The nine participating Leibniz archives intend to provide new data and versatile combinations for those portraits most frequently searched by the public, i.e. of scientists, technicians, industrialists, architects, artists, and members of the aristocracy as well as representations of professions. These data will be linked with the portrait images (as far as legally permitted). Numerous research tools will create new research sources.


Dr. Birgit Jooss
Lisa Einzmann

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