On 17 July, Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven of the Department of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) issued a disbursement letter based on the 'Closer to Architecture’ masterplan officially allocating the first half of the 11 million euros awarded in March for the restoration, conservation and digitisation of Het Nieuwe Instituut’s collection.
The masterplan outlines the goals and envisaged results of the project. The various component plans will be worked out in detail in the coming months. These will form the basis for the allocation of the second half of the budget. The actual implementation of the plan begins in 2019.
This project was deemed necessary in view of the collection’s sizeable conservation backlog. Het Nieuwe Instituut does not have the financial resources to close this gap. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) will therefore invest 11 million euros over the coming six years in the visibility – i.e. the restoration and digitisation – of the architectural collection administered by Het Nieuwe Instituut. Het Nieuwe Instituut plans to use this support to achieve two goals: to enhance the collection’s physical consultability and to improve the accessibility of the digitised collection.
The goal is to raise the consultability of the collection of around 1.4 million design drawings to at least the national average. The design drawings will be made available with items from the photo collection and Theo van Doesburg collection by restoring and preventively and actively conserving these.
The second main goal aims at improving the accessibility of the architectural collection. This will be increased by measures including the optimisation of the Search portal, improving access to the Study Centre, bundling Het Nieuwe Instituut’s digitised collection with other digitised collections in a network of institutional collection administrators, sustainably conserving digitised collections in a digital archive, finding ways to work jointly with Wikipedia, and to research copyright.
The precise conservation requirements and the applicable conservation methods will be determined in sample surveys and in consultation with a team of experts. The actual cost can only be assessed after a basic framework for the restoration and digitisation has been set. An extensive survey can then be carried out based on this to assess the financial consequences of the choices made.
In the coming months various aspects of the plan will be worked out in detail and formulated in a concrete plan of execution, including:
- Which archive items will be restored and conserved.
- The method to be used and the level to which this will be implemented.
- Collaboration with Architectural Digital Heritage Reference (Digitale Erfgoed Referentie Architectuur - DERA) and Digital Heritage Network (Netwerk Digitaal Erfgoed - NDE) services.
- Optimisation of digital accessibility for various sections of the public.
- How copyright for the relevant parts of the photo collection will be handled.
- Putting the project out for tender.
A detailed plan incorporating these points will be submitted to the ministry of OCW in December 2018.
Het Nieuwe Instituut recognises the desirability for society that in addition to benefiting the national collection, the specialised expertise obtained in this restoration and digitisation project should also be shared with the wider world in the form of publications and symposia. Het Nieuwe Instituut plans to take this opportunity to make itself available as a centre of expertise for other institutions with similar collections.
Het Nieuwe Instituut and the State Archive
Het Nieuwe Instituut administers around eighteen kilometres of archive material comprising around seven hundred archives and collections of Dutch architects, urban planners, professional organisations and courses encompassing some four million documents. It is one of the biggest architectural collections in the world, providing an insight into around 130 years of change and developing ideas in Dutch architecture and urban planning. Het Nieuwe Instituut is one of the leading institutes in the world of architecture, with a collection of exceptional cultural-historical, educational and artistic value.