The Photothek's holdings of standard-format photographs are freely accessible in open shelves and are organized into the categories of Architecture, Sculpture, Painting and Applied Arts. Photographs of Antique art (architecture, sculpture, painting and mosaic) form their own section.
The Architecture section is divided into epochs and, within these, into regions and locations. It also includes the sub-divisions Urbanism, Architectural Drawings, Landscape Architecture, Museology and Stage Design, as well as Non-Italian Architecture.
The Painting and Sculpture sections are likewise organized into epochs. Within each epoch, the works of known artists are arranged in alphabetical order of artist name, followed by anonymous works arranged according to their current location. Drawings, prints and miniatures are integrated into these sections on the basis of what they show. The Painting section also includes the sub-division Portraits and Self-portraits in the Uffizi.
The Applied Arts section is organized by material and object type, and within each respective category by epoch.
The Photothek's holdings also include large-format photographs. For conservation reasons special conditions apply to the consultation of these photographs. The same restrictions apply to the approx. 1,000 unbound prints housed in the collection.
The Photothek's holdings of analogue and digital photographs, negatives, etc. are being continuously expanded through photo campaigns, acquisitions, bequests and donations. Photo campaigns by the Institute concentrate on the documentation of monuments to which the public has little or no access, such as private palaces and villas in Florence and its environs, and non-accessible areas within churches and monasteries. The Photothek also cooperates with Florentine museums, such as the Galleria dell'Accademia, the Bargello and the Boboli Gardens, on photo campaigns focused on specific themes. The research project CENOBIUM provides new photographic documentation of Romanesque capitals in cloisters in the Mediterranean region.
Notable new acquisitions in 2016/2017
The Photothek recently acquired the archive of German photographer and sculptor Anton Hautmann (Munich 1821–Florence 1862), consisting of approx. 1,500 glass plate negatives, 80% of them produced using the wet collodion process. The negatives, which are in varying states of preservation, show among other things buildings, townscapes, artworks, landscapes, animals and portraits in a range of formats.
The existing holdings of photographs by the Rome-based photographer Romualdo Moscioni (Viterbo 1849–1925 Rome) have grown thanks to the acquisition of one of his albums. The small (17.3 x 23.5 cm) volume, produced before 1903, is titled Roma and contains 18 albumen prints showing views of Rome.
The Photothek's card catalogues were introduced in 1902 and cover accessions from 1897 up to the start of electronic cataloguing in 1993. In time the card catalogues will also be fully converted into digital form.
A card catalogue in topographical order and a card catalogue by artist name are available for each of the sections Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, and Applied Arts as well as for Drawings. Prints have their own card catalogue by artist and engraver name. The iconographic catalogue covers themes and subjects represented in works of art from all sections.
Card catalogue by artist name
The catalogue lists, in alphabetical order, the names of the artists whose works are represented in the Photothek.
Card catalogue by location
This card catalogue is organized topographically in alphabetical order. The catalogue begins with Italian sites, followed by sites outside Italy in alphabetical order. Each location is subdivided into churches and religious institutions, museums, villas, palaces and private collections.
Card catalogue by iconography
This catalogue is organized in terms of iconographic themes such as e.g. Old and New Testament, lives of the saints, mythology, literature, history, portraiture and genre scenes.
The inventory books and accession registers were maintained from 1898 to 1993. All new accessions since 1993 are recorded in a database.
The entries in the inventory books contain the date of inventorying, the consecutive inventory number and the location of the item within the Photothek (shelf mark), together with details of the object depicted and of the image's provenance and type. They include the concordances between the inventory numbers and the accession register. Negatives are registered in separate lists, while born-digital photographs are inventoried and managed with an internal project database.
The Photothek's archive of negatives comprises approx. 55,000 negatives in the form of glass plates and acetate and polyester films in various formats. These negatives come either from the Institute's own photo campaigns or from acquisitions, donations and bequests. The archive is housed next to the digitization stations in the Casa Zuccari.
The Photothek has its own analogue and digital photo laboratories, housed in the Casa Zuccari.
At the digitisation stations, the Institute's holdings (negatives and prints) are scanned or digitally photographed and edited. The analogue photo studio, with its photography room, darkroom and wet laboratory, is primarily used for teaching purposes and practical experiments. Seminars on historical photographic techniques are regularly held here.