Fototeca Gilardi Digital Asset Management

Ando Gilardi National Historical Photo Library represents a precious cultural heritage, to be preserved and made known. Its history has its roots in the 1950s, a period in which the photojournalist Ando Gilardi (1921-2012) concretizes the idea of a place to store iconographic material, and reaches the present day, where digitized images are easily accessible online.

Currently, the Gilardi Photo Library is managed by Elena and Patrizia Piccini who, exploiting the potential of MomaPIX digital asset management, successfully carry out the enhancement of the historical archive.

By reading this article you will discover:

  • How the Gilardi Photo Library was born
  • How the management of the photographic archive has changed over the years
  • What are the best initiatives to enhance a historical archive

Brief history of Gilardi Photo Library

Gilardi Photo Library was founded in Rome in 1959, after Ando Gilardi had already worked for over 10 years as a journalist and photojournalist for some newspapers in the Communist Party area. In 1969 the headquarters were moved to Milan, where prestigious collaborations and new editorial projects began, such as magazines dedicated to photography and images in a broad sense: the magazines Photo 13, Phototeca, Storia Infame, were published from 1969 to 1989. In 1979, Gilardi created the Foto / gram group, which dealt with image education, holding courses for teachers, curating educational publications, manuals and essays. It is in this activity that the Piccini sisters met Gilardi and became part of his work team, first supporting him in educational educational activities and then joining the editorial staff of the magazine Phototeca (Patrizia) and of the archive (Elena) .

From film to digital: how the management of the photographic archive has changed.

The photographic archive management has changed a lot from the birth of the Photo Library to today. “It was the early 1980s of the last century - Patrizia and Elena Piccini say - the workflow was all done in film and paper. We compiled paper cards containing the photogram by hand, then inserted them in the archive according to the encyclopedic entries of competence. Then we moved on to drawing up the files on the computer and organizing them in databases ”.

The revolution took place when digital progress made it possible to have images in computer format as well. Now the daily work of the photo library involves the digitization of the films made up to the end of the 90s, when it began to produce new images directly in digital. The cards are now compiled and inserted directly into the metadata describing the images, used for the management and quick retrieval of the contents.

There is no more film, there are no more paper files, the photo library has become an almost intangible asset, but no less eloquent for this. Indeed, thanks to digital asset management software that offer multiple tools for both research and promotion, the images are organized in an even better way.

How to enhance a digital historical archive.

The Gilardi Photo Library is able to suggest best practices for the enhancement of a historical archive. The two main aspects that have been taken into consideration are conservation and disclosure. Some initiatives are currently underway, while others are to be implemented in the near future. Here are some of the projects identified:

  • Digitization campaign of the Ando Gilardi reporter fund. The first step was completed in 2017, the cataloging and insertion of metadata are still in progress
  • Digitization to preserve other historical holdings. The scanning of the works concerning the photographic experimentation period of Ando Gilardi is in progress.
  • Cataloging of the texts written by Ando Gilardi. This project is currently tied to finding the necessary resources.
  • Promotion of the value of the archive with the description of the stored materials and the opening to the public and professionals. Various initiatives are regularly carried out organized by Rete Fotografia, an association that aims to bring together various bodies, archives and photographers, to facilitate and promote the dissemination of photographic culture.
  • Self-financed or crowdfunding editorial productions for the dissemination of the heritage of images and texts
  • Creation of exhibitions, supply of images to the publishing industry or for various uses with which the obtained reproduction rights are financed all the conservation and dissemination work described above

You can consult this use case of digital asset management for further ideas on the strategies adopted by the Gilardi Photo Library to enhance the historical archive.

If you too work in the field of cultural heritage management, contact us, we will guide you in a process of technological transformation capable of adding value to digital assets.

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