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What is “Kulturelles Erbe Köln”?

KEK is a joint venture of Cologne’s museums and collections and Cologne city’s Rheinisches Bildarchiv (RBA) [Rhineland Image Archive] with the aim of jointly presenting their collection inventories in a scientific manner, opening them up for research on a cross-collection basis and providing photographs of the objects in these collections. In addition, original photo collections are presented and made available by Rheinisches Bildarchiv.

The museums and collections are in most cases the authors of the object descriptions whereas Rheinisches Bildarchiv is responsible for the availability and provision of the images as well as for their sale and the administration of the image rights. KEK is operated under the supervision of Cologne City Council’s Department of Art and Culture. Rheinisches Bildarchiv bears the editorial responsibility for the image database and is the contact for advice, editorial tips and improvement suggestions.

What can I find at Rheinisches Bildarchiv?

The RBA collection
Since its establishment in 1926, Rheinisches Bildarchiv (RBA) [Rhineland Image Archive] has specialised in photographs of objects in and for Cologne’s museums. Photos of works of art and collection items therefore account for a significant part of the RBA’s collection. Photographers working for RBA also document the presentation of these objects in the exhibitions as well as exhibition openings and further important events in the museums and generally events and persons of public interestin the city of Cologne.

Apart from this, for a long time RBA also provided architecture documentationservices in Cologne and the entire Rhineland region notably in connection with the cataloguing of cultural monuments in this region during the 1930s and 1940s. These duties were then assumed by the photographers working for the City Curator’s Office. The inventories of the Cologne City Curator’s Office are deposited with RBA and continue to grow on an ongoing basis.

The photographs of historical events and documentsaccount for a somewhat smaller share of the collection. The Historische Archiv der Stadt Köln [Historical Archive of the City of Cologne] is responsible for this collection focus.

In addition to the photographs taken by RBA’s own photographers, the RBA collection also includes photos from external photographers from Cologne, its surrounding area and even further afield such as Achim Bednorz, Chargesheimer, Theodor Creifelds, Heinrich Ewertz, Peter H. Fürst, Karl Heinz Hatlé, August Kreyenkamp, Paul Krücken, Ann Münchow, Heinrich Pieroth, August Sander, Anselm Schmitz, Karl Hugo Schmölz, Hugo Schmölz and Fritz Zapp. The RBA collection moreover continues to grow thanks to its taking over of inventories from other facilities and photographers.

RBA manages significant collections from “Kölner Dombauarchiv” [Cologne Cathedral Construction Archive] and “Xantener Dombauarchiv” [Xanten Cathedral Construction Archive] (now “Stiftsmuseum Xanten” [Xanten Foundation Museum]).

A selection of the individual collection items

  • “Dombauverwaltung Köln” [Cathedral Construction Administration Cologne]: 3,200 glass negatives
  • Stiftsmuseum Xanten (formerly Xantener Dombauarchiv): 7,525 glass plates
  • “Rheinisches Amt für Denkmalpflege” [Rhineland Department of Monument Conservation]: 3,743 photos
  • City Curator’s Office, Cologne: 91,583 photos, of which 12,999 glass negatives, and still growing
  • “Verein der Freunde des Wallraf-Richartz-Museums und des Museums Ludwig” [Association of the Friends of Wallraf Richartz Museum and of Museum Ludwig]: 1,034 glass negatives
  • Museum Ludwig, Cologne: 105 glass negatives (Cologne Reportages), around 40,000 film negatives (Chargesheimer estate)
  • “Kölnisches Stadtmuseum” [Cologne City Museum]: 27,000 glass and film negatives
  • “Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst” [Museum of East Asian Art], Cologne: 9,450 glass and film negatives
  • Märkisches Museum, Witten: 2 glass negatives (70 x 90 cm)

Photo formats/quality, degree of digitisation and accessibility
The accessibility of the photographs in the Kulturelles Erbe Köln (KEK) [Cologne´s Cultural Heritage] image database depends on the photo formats and qualities as well as on the degree of digitisation. Some photos are so far only accessible in Rheinisches Bildarchiv in analogue form. Furthermore, certain photographs are not shown in the Internet for image rights or ethical reasons.

Negatives: The historical collections include glass negatives in the formats 9 x 12 cm, 13 x 18 cm, 18 x 24 cm and 24 x 30 cm. The largest glass negatives measure 90 x 70 cm. Positive prints (see below) were made of the vast majority of glass negatives for the microfiche catalogue “Marburger Index” [Marburg Index]. Only a few glass negatives have so far been directly digitised. However, the database encompasses the digitised microfiche copies of the “Marburger Index” as preview images. High-definition digitised reproductions made directly from glass negatives (and not from microfiches) are supplied by RBA on demand.

B/W sheet film negatives are available in the formats 9 x 12 cm, 13 x 18 cm, 18 x 24 cm and 24 x 30 cm. Positive copies were also made of them for the “Marburger Index” so that they are likewise accessible in the database in digitised microfiche copy form.

The 35 mm image inventories in black/white and colour have not yet been catalogued or digitised to a large extent. These collections can be searched through at RBA following on-site registration.

Positives:RBA photographers have made manual prints on baryta paperof some 323,000 negatives. These positives are printed on card and sorted in accordance with the system used for the “Marburger Index” microfiche catalogue. Four of the five deliveries provided from the “Marburger Index” (approx. 300,000 photos) have been digitised and included in the Bildindex . These digitised microfiche copies have been integrated into the RBA image database as preview images. A further approx. 12,000 photos were included in the last microfiche catalogue delivery but not digitised.

As it is located in the administration rooms, the positives archive may currently only be consulted following advance notification of the RBA office at ( ).

The vintage prints collection is likewise only accessible following prior notification.

Colour slides (ektachrome):RBA possesses some 25,000 colour slides in medium- and large-sized formats– the vast majority of which are photos of works of art and objects in museum collections. Some 20,000 of these colour slides have been digitised and integrated into the image database.

In the 1970s the event documentation was switched to 35 mm colour film and continued in this way until around 2007. These films have not yet been digitised and are only in part digitally catalogued. They can be located via the handwritten inventory books of Rheinisches Bildarchiv.

Digital photos:2007/2008 saw the switch to digital photographyfor object photos and reportage photography. This portfolio of purely digital images has since then been growing consistently.

How do I find a photo in the image database?

Image searching
The image database offers a free text search, a search via certain indices (e.g. artist, title, genre, material …) and a search by various filter criteria(see “Filter content” in the left column). Hits are shown to you in a gallery view, in hit list form or as individual hits (detailed view). The gallery view and hit list allow sorting by various criteria e.g. in ascending and descending order by title. The number of hits shown on a page can be set to 10, 25, 50 or 100. You can also refine a search that has already been started whereby your initial search criteria are not lost.

New search You delete all previous search criteria and completely reset the search mask by clicking on “Kulturelles Erbe Köln” [Cologne´s Cultural Heritage] in the top left corner. Should you instead wish to return to a collection you initially selected (e.g. of one of the museums) and start a new search from there, then please click on the museum’s ‘emotion’ field at the top of the page.

You can obtain support and advice with your image search by telephone (+49(0)221/221-22354) or e-mail from the office of Rheinisches Bildarchiv ( ).

Not all photos of Rheinisches Bildarchiv (RBA) [Rhineland Image Archive] have been digitised and catalogued in the image database. The collection can in part be searched through via the microfiche edition “Marburger Index – Inventar der Kunst in Deutschland (1977ff.)” [Marburg Index – Inventory of Art in Germany” (1977 et seq.)]. This microfiche catalogue is available to you in the MAKK reading room: MAKK Lesesaal . Here you can also obtain further information on the topographical system used for the microfiche catalogue. RBA has additionally several auxiliary card indexes that can be viewed on request. The employees working in the library and archive are pleased to help with any specific questions you might have and provide advice.

What do I do if I cannot find a photo in the image database that Rheinisches Bildarchiv actually ought to have?

The photo MUST be here somewhere…
It may happen that you cannot find a photo in the RBA’s image database although based on the Rheinisches Bildarchiv (RBA) [Rhineland Image Archive] collection profile it actually ought to be there. The reason could be that a museum’s work of art or collection item

  1. has not yet been photographed,
  2. has been photographed but not yet digitised,
  3. has been photographed and digitised, but not yet catalogued.

In the first case, you can order a new photo. In the second case, you can search for the image yourself either in the reading room of Kunst- und Museumsbibliothek (KMB) [Art and Museum Library] or ask for the image to be sought and then order the photo. In the third case, you can ask for the image to be sought and then order the photo.

How do I order a photo?

How do I order a photo using the shopping basket?
The most convenient way of ordering photos from us is by using the shopping basket on the platform Kulturelles Erbe Köln (KEK) [Cologne´s Cultural Heritage]. Below, you will find step-by-step instructions for using this basket.

You add a photo to the basket by clicking the basket icon below the photo´s thumbnail .

With each additional selected photo, the count display in the header of the image database increases.

After adding any photos you want to purchase to the basket, click “Basket” in the header of the image database to open the shopping basket.

The shopping basket is displayed in four columns. Use the “Image” column to check whether the basket contains the correct image. Use the magnifying glass icon below the thumbnail to open the zoom view. Clicking the icon (lined paper) to the right of the magnifying glass opens the object description. In the “Details” column, specify the following:

• Quantity (only when ordering more than one analogue photo)
• Purpose of Use (“Privat/keine Publikation” [Private/No Publication], “Forschung/Wissenschaft” [Research/Science] or “Kommerzielle Nutzung” [Commercial Use])
• Product (digital reproduction/high-end scan or analogue prints in black/white or colour)
• Format (up to DIN A4 or DIN A3 with a resolution of 300 dpi or more)

You can also remove an image file from your order list by clicking “Delete from Basket”.

The “Price per Piece“ column lists the price for the provision of the respective image. Only in cases in which you order several prints of analogue images does the „Price per Position” specified in the fourth column differ from the price per piece. The bottom of the table lists the provision fees plus the applicable VAT currently amounting to 19 percent.

Shipping costs depending on the format of the image must be added to the total price. Usage fees (licence fees) are currently not yet shown in the image database and will be calculated in the office of Rheinisches Bildarchiv (RBA) [Rhineland Image Archive] on an individual basis according to the specifications you make on the following form pages. To open these form pages, click “Forward”.
Please specify your delivery and billing address on the following two form pages:

1. First name
2. Surname
3. Company
4. Address
5. Postal Code
6. City
7. Country
8. VAT-ID (if ID is to be indicated on the bill)
9. Phone (area code/number)
10. Fax
11. Email address

We kindly ask you to check your order before submitting it by clicking “Bestellen” [Order] on the bottom of the last form page.

In addition, we advise you that the purchase of usage rights is subject to approval and charging. The fees set out for the delivery of the requested media do not contain any applicable usage fees (licence fees). Please refer to our Table of Charges for information about the respective fees.

If you have selected “Veröffentlichung” [Publication] under “Purpose of Use”, you will receive an email containing further information as well as a final usage authorisation by post.

Please note that rights of third parties may also need to be obtained. The customer is responsible for respecting such rights (for example copyrights on reproduced works of art , personality rights, ownership rights with regard to collections, rights described in the German Trademark Act). In the case of photos of works of art protected by copyright (up to 70 years following the death of the artist), we attempt to add a corresponding note. However, there is no obligation on our part for adding such a note. In many cases, the additional usage rights for a work of art can be obtained from BILD-KUNST [the licensing and copyright collecting society for paintings and other works of art].

In any case, the following image source credits must be added in every publication to any and all image documents obtained from our inventories:

Photo: © Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln: name of photographer (if known), RBA number xxx xxx
Example: (Photo: © Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln, Wolfgang Meier, rba_d013160)

Following the publication of image(s), we ask you to send corresponding evidence to Rheinisches Bildarchiv, without a special request being required. Customers are liable for the use of the image(s) in accordance with the usage regulations. Reapplication is required for any further use. It is not allowed to pass on image(s) to unauthorised third parties for further use. In the case of wrongful use of the image(s), we raise a surcharge of 100 percent in addition to the usage fees. For further information, please refer to our General Terms of Supply .

How do I order a photo by post, email or via online form?

In addition to using the shopping basket on the Kulturelles Erbe Köln (KEK) [Cologne´s Cultural Heritage] website, you can also order your requested photos from us by post:

Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln
Eifelwall 5
D-50674 Köln

In addition, orders via email or online form are also possible.

Email ( ) to Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln or print order to Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln.

We will then deliver digital image files, reproductions and prints to you against invoice.

In the same way, you can also order new photos. The costs for reproductions, new photos and usage fees are laid down in our Table of Charges .

Can I order new photos from Rheinisches Bildarchiv?

New photos
Of course you can order new photos from Rheinisches Bildarchiv (RBA) [Rhineland Image Archive]!

New photos account for more than 70% of our orders. The RBA photographers take new photos of works of art and collection items notably in Cologne city museums insofar as the museum administering or owning them can approve this on legal and conservation-related grounds. Please plan sufficient time for such a photo order. A collection item may have been hired out or be located in an external depot. The lead time for new photographs often takes longer than the photographing itself. The cost of new photos is set out in the RBA’s Table of Charges .

How much does a photo cost?

Table of Charges
The costs for new photos and analogue or digital reproductions of photos of Rheinisches Bildarchiv (RBA) [Rhineland Image Archive] as well as their usage are laid down by the Council of the City of Cologne in the Table of Charges . For discounts for scientific work as well as quantity discounts, please also refer to the Table of Charges .

May I publish a photo in my scientific work?

Yes, you may publish a Rheinisches Bildarchiv (RBA) [Rhineland Image Archive] photo in your scientific work. Please note the Table of Charges and the Terms of Supply applicable in such cases.

May I use a photo from the RBA image database for a PowerPoint presentation in a scientific seminar or lecture?

Usage for scientific seminars and lectures
Yes, you may use a photo from Rheinisches Bildarchiv (RBA) [Rhineland Image Archive] for a PowerPoint presentation in a scientific seminar or lecture without having to pay licence fees.

May I use a photo from the RBA image database for my website?

Use on an Internet website
Yes, you may use a photo from Rheinisches Bildarchiv (RBA) [Rhineland Image Archive] for your website. Please note the applicable Terms of Supply and the Table of Charges .

What should a caption to a photo from the RBA image database state?

Image caption/inscription
The image caption must include information on the creator/author, object title, date and place of origin as well as on the owner and/or administer of an object pictured including a signature or inventory number and serves the purpose of unambiguously identifying the object shown. These details are required by notably Cologne city museums for photos of their collection items. These details are a mandatory condition to which RBA usage approval is subject. (→ Terms of Supply ) It may additionally be necessary to add a copyright note. In the case of photos from Rheinisches Bildarchiv (RBA) [Rhineland Image Archive], the object descriptions may include reference to, for example, the legal representation by the “VG Bild-Kunst” [Licensing and collecting society for paintings and other works of arts]. This note must appear when such photos are used. It is also stated here as to whether an artist insists on a request being placed with the VG Bild-Kunst society prior to each usage.
An appropriate inscription or image caption can for example state: Friedrich Elias Meyer (the Elder), Couple Gardening, porcelain, Meissen, around 1751/52, Cologne, private collection, inv. no. xxx. Differentiation should be made between image captions and copyright notes on the one hand and image source credits on the other hand.

Examples of image inscriptions and image source credits:
Friedrich Elias Meyer (the Elder), Couple Gardening, porcelain, Meissen, around 1751/52, Cologne, private collection, inv. no. xxx. (photo: © Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln, Wolfgang Meier, rba_d013160).

Schnütgen Museum, Cologne, Old Town (Cologne), Cäcilienstrasse 29 (photo: © Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln, photographer, RBA 052 313).

Exhibition documentation:
Stefan Lochner, “Meister zu Köln – Herkunft, Werke, Wirkung, Raumaufnahme” [Master Craftsman from Cologne – Origin, Works, Impact, Room photo], Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, 03.12.1993-27.02.1994, (photo: © Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln, photographer, rba_c009568).

Reportage photo:
Cleaning Ceremony in the Exhibition: “Bhutan – Heilige Kunst aus dem Himalaya” [Bhutan – Sacred Art from the Himalayas], 17.03.2010, Cologne, Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst (photo: © Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln, photographer, rba_d022024_01).

What should image source credits to a photo from the RBA image database state?

Image source credits
Image source credits for photos from the Rheinisches Bildarchiv (RBA) [Rhineland Image Archive] collection must provide information on the author of the photograph (§ 13 German Copyright Act). No doubt may be left as to the relationship between the image and its proof of origin. For photos from the RBA collection, image source credits must always state:

Photo: © Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln: name of photographer (if known), RBA no. xxx xxx.

Example: (Photo: © Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln, Wolfgang Meier, rba_d013160).

What is the difference between an image caption and image source credits?

Difference between an image caption and image source credits
The image caption provides information on the object and motif pictured. Image source credits provide information on the author of the photo. In the case of photographer collections, the two areas may in part coincide.

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