Thanks to the extensive re-organisation of the Photo Library, which started in 2005, an opportunity for digitising our holdings emerged. The Institute ordered from the Ontia company a tailor-made image database software which enables cataloguing, management and presentation on the Internet of the digitised holdings of the Photo Library.

Owing to restrictions imposed by the copyright regulations not all digitised photographs from our holdings can be made available to the public on-line (this applies above all to images scanned from books, used principally in teaching). Access to all services is granted (after registration) to undergraduate and postgraduate students of the Institute as well as its faculty members; they are authorised to download files. Other users are allowed to browse through the records and to view only low-resolution image files. The privileged users are asked to contact the Photo Library in order to get a login and password. Guests interested in using our holdings for scholarly purposes may request an account by contacting us by phone or e-mail.

Since the process of digitising and cataloguing of our holdings is a fairly recent undertaking, the number of records in our database is, so far, rather modest. At the moment, all visitors may view the digitised photographs (prints) of historic monuments from the area of the former Eastern Borderlands of the Polish Republic. The privileged (registered) users may additionally view about 9 thousand image files (scanned 35-mm slides and JPEG files acquired from various sources) related to nineteenth-century art. An update on current developments in the database expansion will be made available in the News tab.

Information for users

Only the structural core of the service, the so-called menu, is available in English, i.e. information texts, search fields, field names in the records, and command buttons. The data introduced to the database are in Polish only, including Polish versions of proper names for people and places (whenever available). In order to reduce the risk of mistakes, it is advisable to use the word lists linked to the advanced search option.

Search tips

The users are given two options: simple search and advanced search. Simple search enables searching the entire database by means of keywords and the combination thereof (using the operators: ‘AND’, ‘OR’, ‘NOT’). Advanced search allows to limit the search only to particular fields which make up the description of a given photograph in the database, for instance:

Title – e.g. ‘Matka Boska z Dzieciątkiem’ [Virgin with Child], ‘Kościół św. Piotra, fasada’ [St Peter’s church, façade], ‘Kielich’ [chalice] etc.

Artist – e.g. ‘Jan Matejko’ (names can be selected from a word list)

School – e.g. ‘niem.’ [German]

Date from / to (two separate fields which allow to define a particular timespan)

Location – e.g. ‘Kraków, katedra’ [Cracow, cathedral], ‘Lwów, Arsenał Królewski’ [Lvov, Royal Arsenal] (names can be selected from a word list)

Material/Technique – e.g. ‘drewno, polichromia, złocenie’ [wood, polychromy, gilding] (terms can be selected from a word list)

Iconography (based on the ICONCLASS system; under construction)

Type – e.g. ‘kościół’ [church], ‘retabulum’ [altarpiece], ‘portret’ [portrait] (terms can be selected from a word list)

Exhibitions (year and place when and where the artwork was exhibited)


Category – e.g. ‘Architektura’ [architecture], ‘Rzeźba’ [sculpture], ‘Malarstwo’ [painting] (terms can be selected from a word list; browsing through particular categories is also possible through the left-hand side menu)

Medium – e.g. ‘odbitka albuminowa’ [albumen print], ‘plik jpg’ [jpg file] (terms can be selected from a word list)

Former Inventory No.

Photographer – e.g. ‘Kolowca S.’ (names can be selected from a list)

Date of the Photo from / to (two separate fields which allow to define a particular timespan)

The resulting list can be sorted (in ascending or descending order) by the data covered by any of the above fields, with the exception of the Iconography field.


Selected images are downloadable as JPG files in one of three available sizes: 800 × 600 pixels, 1024 × 768 pixels or the largest: not bigger than 3072 × 2304 pixels. Clicking the button denoting a given size opens a download in a separate window. By clicking the ‘Specify filename’ button beforehand, a name may be assigned to the downloaded file. It can be made up of no more than five keywords contained in the following fields: Artist, Location, Resolution, Shelfmark, Title, arranged in random order, e.g.:




By selecting a particular field, additionally the original filename and the successive number in the downloading sequence may be appended. In case of not making any choice, the downloaded file will be given a system name.