The Photographic Archive of the BSR includes over 100,000 items, prints and negatives.
A number of unique collections of 19th century photographs found their way into
the BSR and out of these the Archive grew to include later collections, which document
the research and activities of the BSR up to the present day. The majority of these
are still unknown outside the BSR and most are not yet catalogued or published.
The processing techniques include both silver and non-silver processes, for example
calotypes, glass negatives, salted paper prints and carbon prints.
A broad range of subjects is covered and includes:
• the archaeology and topography of Italy, North Africa and the Middle East
• ancient Greek and Roman art and architecture and, in particular, sculpture
• Roman, Byzantine and Medieval architecture and Renaissance art and architecture
• damage to monuments in Italy during World War II
• BSR events and activities and the work of BSR Fine Art Fellows.
The importance of these collections both as a resource for research and for the
history of photography has been underestimated in the past and the main aim today
is to conserve the material to a high standard and to make it accessible on the
internet. The Archive also encourages collaboration and discussion between other
Archives, thus creating in the BSR a forum for discussion, lectures, courses, exhibitions
and collaborative projects.
Thanks to the generosity of the Packard Humanities Institute, the major Centenary
Library and Archive building project began in 2000 and was successfully completed
in 2004. Apart from the addition of a new wing and complete refurbishment of the
Library the project also included the construction of a new basement, built to high
conservation and security standards, which is now the new home of the Photographic and Historic Archives
all the collections were cleaned, reorganized and placed in conservation sleeves
The increase in activities and events relating to the Photographic Archive was triggered
in 2002 by a generous three-year grant from The Getty Foundation
which funded the
cataloguing and organization of three 19th century collections of photographs.
A second two-year grant from The Getty Foundation in 2007 funded the cataloguing
and organization of part of the J.B. Ward-Perkins collection (more information in
Projects) and the creation of this website.
Photographs currently available on the website:
J.B. Ward-Perkins Collection (BSR Director 1945-74)
- Libya series -
archaeological sites in Libya including photographs of Ward-Perkins’ excavations
at Leptis Magna, Sabratha and Cyrenaica in the 1950s and other archaeological sites
in the region
- South Etruria
Survey series - the ground-breaking work of Ward-Perkins, who carried out a
thorough archaeological survey of South Etruria in the 1950s and 60s. The recent
BSR Tiber Valley Project revisited this material
- II World War
Damage series - Ward-Perkins, Lt.-Colonel in the British army led the Sub-Commission
of the Allied Government for Monuments and Fine Arts to document damage to Italian
monuments caused by bombing throughout Italy during World War II and secured a copy
of these photographs and negatives for the BSR Archive.
(the whole collection is available on the URBS catalogue)
• Photographs of Abruzzo
• Photographs of aqueducts in Lazio
• A selection of photographs from the over 2,400 held in the BSR
• Photographs of the Via Appia and the Via Traiana published in Lungo l’Appia e
la Traiana, 2012
• Photographs of the archaeological site of Peltuinum, Abruzzo
The uncatalogued collections are not available for consultation.