Universiteit Leiden

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The number of historical and contemporary photographs of Leiden University approaches a half million.

The oldest part belong to the Print Room collections: circa 150.000 photographs and photographic objects that reflects the history of the photographic medium itself. In 2002, the Print Room collections moved to the University Library, which also holds photo collections that explore and present the rest of the world, with an emphasis on Asia. Among them are the loan collection of KITLV (over 200.000 photographs) and that of the the former Kern Institute (70.000 photographs).  These

Within the Dutch heritage landscape,  Leiden University‚Äôs photography collection holds a specific position. It is the oldest museological photo collection of the Netherlands. In 1953, it was started with the aim to record the technological and artistic developments of the photographic medium. In that respect it differed from the documentary photo collections that existed up to that date in archival institutions. In the decades after its foundation, the Leiden photo collection was expanded with older collections, some of which originated even in the beginning of the twentieth century. It resulted in a organically shaped photo collection, that pictures the history of photography from its invention in 1839 up to now.

Moreover, it is the sole collection in the Netherlands that also holds cameras, studio and darkroom accessories from the days of the invention of photography until now. This elaborate collection of photographica shows the technological development of the photographic medium. Within the Netherlands, therefore, this is the pre-eminent collection to study past and present of photography in all its technical and artistic appearances.


Search in the Catalogue for photographs and photographica, for digital versions, for collection descriptions and for online exhibitions. Use Digital Special Collections for the viewing of digitized photographs  and photographica.

For more information consult the subject guides.