Het Nieuwe Instituut – Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Ensure the past will stay forever - Digitize your collection at full speed

Het Nieuwe Instituut is the Netherlands’ national museum for architecture, design and digital culture located in the city of architecture, Rotterdam. It opened in 2013, although the collection dates back to the early 1900’s. Their 700 different archival collections consist of approximately 4 million items, from artists and urban planners such as Berlage or Kromhout. It is funded by the ministry of (OCW) Education Culture and Science, public donations and by the Rotterdam city council. For this customer story, they allowed us to peek behind the curtain and told us about their massive digitization efforts.

The architecture collection that the institute manages can be freely consulted in the Research Centre and is digitally accessible via our search portal. Currently, Het Nieuwe Instituut is working on a large-scale project called ‘Disclosing Architecture’ which is a six-year initiative to increase the visibility and continued accessibility of the National Collection for Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning, made possible by a one-off investment from the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. This project has contributed to the expansion of the digitization department at HNI.

Exhibitionatelier Nelly and Theo van Doesburg, het Nieuwe Instituut 2020. Photo Johannes Schwartz

Our digitization team consists of five staff members. One team leader, three photographers/digitizers and one colleague taking care of the copyright and digitization requests. The team is part of the cultural heritage department that works alongside archivists, conservators, registrars and many more.

Herman Gelton

Heritage DigiTam Leader

Make your collection last forever

Het Nieuwe Instituut’s collection is used for national and international projects, exhibitions and also for research. The contents of our national collection often inspire museums to hold their own exhibitions; it is also accessible through our Research Centre, a space where research, encounters, inspiration, collaboration and the exchange of knowledge are central. Hosting around 3000 national and international researchers per year, above all it is a place where new knowledge is created.

“We are also working towards increasing the accessibility of the collection through initiatives such as our search portal, re-using the collection in creative projects, and the development of a new collection interface”, Says Herman Gelton.

Exhibition MVRDV archive, het Nieuwe Instituut 2022. Photo Johannes Schwartz

An efficient process to digitize your collection

In 2021 our photo studio underwent a large renovation to accommodate 4 repro setups. Each camera set up was purpose built to capture 2D objects of a specific format. Since 2021 our digitization workflow is primarily camera-based.

Our main reproduction setup is the Phase One iXG 100MP camera mounted on the Phase One Autocolumn 2300XL. This system was purchased specifically for the Disclosing Architecture project digitization of A0+ architectural drawings that we house in our collection. It was chosen for its high resolution, minimal noise, excellent color reproduction, and that the camera is purposely built to capture flat surfaces as well as being robust.

Prior to the Phase One iXG we used two Océ TC4 large-format scanners to digitize A0+ material, however due to the fragility of the drawings and the time-consuming process of scanning, the scanners had their drawbacks.

Increase your productivity no matter how fragile your object is

On high-volume projects we can capture up to 2000 images per day, depending on the materials and specifics of the project. For example, drawings, which are rolled up or have a lot of wear and tear are far trickier to digitize than pieces that have recently returned from conservation and have been fully restored. Last year, for the preparation for the exhibition MVRDVHNI- The Living Archive of a Studio, we managed to digitize 40,000 images in 5 months. This was possible due to the continual use of 3 repro sets and the fact that the archive of MVRDV consists of relatively easy to handle (A4) material.

Due to our new studio and acquisition of the Phase One camera last year we were able to digitize a total of 75,000 images in 2021 – almost double of our initial goal and if we factor in the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated restriction, this number is even more impressive.

Photo Het Nieuwe Instituut, Eelco roelsma

Since purchasing the Phase One iXG we are now able to photograph more than 250 A0+ architectural drawings per day, which more than double the amount we could digitize with the large format scanners. Furthermore, with the Phase One iXG we can meet the Metamorfoze High guidelines. All our work is done in the studio and is prepared for digitizing drawings in different sizes up to 150cm. It all functions together as a fixed setup with glass plates and light stands.

digital studio het Nieuwe Instituut. Photo Herman Gelton

In the studio the Phase One iXG is fitted with the new 72mm MkII lens and the Phase One Autocolumn 2300XL, which allows us to cover multiple sizes and resolutions. In addition, we have custom made tables with an automatic trigger that releases the camera’s shutter upon lowering the top glass plate.

Photo Het Nieuwe Instituut, Eelco roelsma

Integrated software for increased efficiency

We try to do most of the workflow within Capture One sessions in order to increase efficiency Lately we have also been using the new ‘batch stitch script’ provided in Capture One CH and the stitch option provided in Capture One. We process architectural drawings to uncompressed TIFF and those files go on to our archiving servers. We follow the Metamorfoze guidelines and recently have been certified to ensure that we get the best quality out of the systems.

Photo Het Nieuwe Instituut, Janou Munnik

One of the main reasons for choosing Phase One has always been the excellent service and support we receive.

Herman Gelton

Heritage DigiTam Leader

Unlike with larger companies, you really feel the personal aspect and you know that someone will always be there for you whether it is a hardware issue or if you just need some advice on software and workflow.

If we’ve had any issues, we have been able to quickly resolve a problem with help of the support team. Since the system was new to us, we took our time and Phase One had sent people in with the kit and worked with us to show us the best way to use the system and the Capture One CH software. They are working with professional experts that are dedicated CH partners who understand our needs and who are always available to help us when needed.

Get in touch with us about our cutting-edge digitization solutions

If you would like to discuss with us how our solutions can tackle your individual pain points or get a demonstration how we have improved the digitization process of other institutions, then just fill out the enclosed form.