‘World Class Rapid Digitization of Cultural Heritage’
A photograph of Marilyn Monroe taken by Inge Morath
Inge Morath | Magnum


'I wanna be loved by you', so sang the queen of all pin-ups, Marilyn Monroe. This star of iconic movies owes her immortality to photographers as Eve Arnold, who in turn worked for the equally iconic Magnum press agency. The Magnum collection is now being digitised, and therefore preserved for current and future generations, by Picturae.

Magnum photographers used to send their pictures to the agency from all over the world, whose task it was to select the best images and forward them to leading magazines. The Magnum offices in New York and Paris each had their own laboratories where images of the very highest quality were produced.

Film roles

This working method prevented the creation of an adequate and centralised archive for all of those exceptional images during decades. Magazines archived the photographs either according to photographer, event, date or region. The diversity of formats and narration applied over the years, occasionally accompanied by personal notes provided by the photographer in question, resulted in a fragmented, inconsistently catalogued and exceptionally analogue collection of data.


In addition to being commissioned to digitise existing analogue Magnum material, Picturae was asked to take up the challenge of structuring the entire archive and making it accessible. A comprehensive overview of the archive is being created on the basis of the information written on the reverse sides of the photographs. Due to the absence of a central archive, Picturae's task in this project is truly formidable!

Thousands of images

Picturae has meanwhile processed almost one hundred thousand images, but still has several hundreds of thousands to go.

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Digitising 2D

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Jeroen Bloothoofd