Specific national resources on historical monuments
Projects and news related to historical monuments (buildings, movable objects and organs) are regularly published in the journal Monumental, scientific and technical review of historic Éditions du Patrimoine (National Monuments Centre).
An index of all articles published since 1992 is available (Download the index in PDF format)
The Heritage and Photography Library (MPP)
The Heritage and Photography Library (MPP) has the mission of collecting and collecting, classifying and preserving, studying, communicating and valuing:
- the archives and documentation of the administration of historical monuments
- the photographic heritage of the State, rich in at least four million prints and fifteen million negatives dating back to the origins of photography
Created in 1996, with the name Médiathèque de l'architecture et du patrimoine, the MPP is a service with national jurisdiction (SCN) of the Heritage Service. In addition to the General Secretariat, which is responsible for administrative and financial management, it is made up of four scientific departments: archives and library, documentation, photography, research centre on historical monuments (CRMH).
It has three sites : Charenton-le-Pont (Val-de-Marne), main site welcoming the public; the fort de Saint-Cyr in Montigny-le-Bretonneux (Yvelines); 182 rue Saint-Honoré in Paris, documentation on protected buildings.
The origin of the funds dates from the first protection of buildings as historical monuments, by list from 1840 for certain buildings, and the first classifications of movable objects, especially from 1891.
History of historical monuments and MAP collections
MH lists published before 1913
The Archives and Library Department
The MPP keeps the archives relating to work on historical monuments, buildings and movable objects, and studies carried out as part of a project or a site: minutes of the Commission des monuments historiques, building work records (specifications, memoirs and figured attachments), general archives on the department of historical monuments, archives of the inspection of historical monuments, archives of workshops and restorers. It also keeps the archives of the agencies of the chief architects of historical monuments. In addition, the «archaeological record», constituted from 1946 to 1977, contains all the files submitted to the Commission des monuments historiques, including those not followed by protection. The buildings concerned may be subject to a new protection project. The previous documentation, rich in images and bibliographies, is therefore available and useful.
All of these archives can be found through the Médiathek base: photographs, maps, plans, archives, restoration reports, surveys of the Historical Monuments Research Centre (CRMH).
Inventories not listed in the Médiathek database are available at: http://www.mediatheque-patrimoine.culture.gouv.fr/pages/recherche/ressources/inventairere_archives.html
On the website of the École nationale des chartes – MENESR
Minutes of the Commission des monuments historiques (1848-1950), scientific edition by Jean-Daniel Pariset
The minutes of the CMH are kept at the MAP. This site, which offers diversified search tools (index by department, municipalities, dates, names), provides some of these texts, fundamental to understanding the decisions taken and the major developments in the protection and restoration of historic monuments.
The department of documentation
The complete series of building protection files is kept at the MAP on the MCC (Bons-Enfants) site, within the sub-directorate of historical monuments and protected areas. The documentation relating to movable objects is kept on the site of Charenton.
Documentation of buildings: initial protection files, work files (preliminary studies, diagnostics, architectural and technical projects, APD, documentation files of works performed), photographs.
Documentation of movable objects: protection sheets, administrative correspondence, estimates, restoration reports, photographs.
The Department of Historical Monuments and Protected Areas (Office for the Conservation of Movable and Instrumental Heritage) directly preserves the protection files relating to organs and musical instruments.
The department of photography
The MAP is an internationally recognized reference collection in the field of photography and is also one of the largest conservation centres for negatives in Europe.
The «heliographic mission» of 1851 is the starting point for the creation of the photographic collection of the historical monuments service. Throughout the nineteenth century, the latter continued to acquire prints from photographers such as Mieusement, Marville, Durand or Heuzé. In XXe The collection is enriched by architectural collections such as Lenormand and Trouvelot. The photographs of the chief architects of historical monuments, silver or digital, always contribute to the enrichment of the collections of the MAP. They mainly represent buildings, stained glass (photomontages), movable objects or archaeological sites protected as historical monuments, before, during or after restoration. During the 1920s and 1930s, in the interwar period, the service was enriched by the Atget and Martin-Sabon collections; it received the Jacques Doucet (library of art and archaeology) and Lefèvre-Pontalis (French Archaeological Society) funds on deposit.
Photographs are available on the Memory base for negatives (approximately 650,000 images online) and on the Médiathek base for prints (150,000 images online). On-site consultation of photographic documentation is essential for a comprehensive approach to historical monuments.
Historical Monuments Research Centre (CRMH)
Since 1934, the Centre de recherches sur les monuments historiques (CRMH) has been collecting and studying data on ancient materials and implementations. Its purpose is to provide photographic and drawn documentation (plans, cuts, elevations, details of assemblies) on the various technical aspects of the construction: masonry, carpentry, ironwork, locksmith. CRMH has been publishing the results of its research since the 1950s. This represents nearly two hundred publications to date, which form the collection of «CRMH albums».
It also keeps records of 3,500 murals covering the entire national territory, a material library of more than 2,200 heritage elements and a hundred models of an educational nature, deposited at the Cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine (CAPA) for valuation.
Databases accessible on the MAP website
Cross-base links are made regularly to link the notice of the protected property with images and to refer to the archives or minutes of the Commission des monuments historiques. In addition to Mérimée, Palissy and Mémoire (cf. infra), MAP supplies and provides access, on its website, to three bases specific to its field of action.
Médiathek is a database that provides access to records (400,000) of the MAP’s archives, plans and photographic prints. Created in 1999, it went online in 2004. Médiathek’s records are harvested by search engines Collections and Europeana.
Bibliothek is the online catalogue of the library: books, periodicals and grey literature. Created in 1999, it is accessible online on the intranet of the Ministry of Culture and Communication. Bibliothek’s periodical records can be consulted by the collective online catalogue Sudoc.
Autor is a biographical database of personalities related to the collections held at the MAP. The profiles are very diverse: architects, photographers, historians, art historians, restorers, artists, craftsmen, administrative agents, members of commissions. Created in 2014, it went online the same year.
The Historical Monuments Research Laboratory (LRMH)
The LRMH is a national heritage service, created in 1971 in the communes of the Château de Champs-sur-Marne (Seine-et-Marne), dedicated to research on the conservation of historic monuments, buildings and movable objects. Eight scientific poles are focused on materials and techniques: wood, wall painting and polychrome, stone, ornate caves, metal, concrete, textile, stained glass. Two scientific poles are transversal: microbiology, analytical pole. Three poles are complementary, technical and documentary. Some poles are common with the C2RMF (Centre de recherche et de restauration des Musées de France). Since 2013, the LRMH has joined the CRCC (Centre de recherche sur la conservation des collections) and the Cité de la musique Research Laboratory in a joint CNRS research unit. The results of the LRMH’s research are regularly published in the journal Monumental, a scientific and technical review of historic monuments.
The following are made available to researchers on request:
- scientific analysis files: pigments, binders, coatings, microbiology;
- very high quality technical photo library: degradations, painting technique, ultra-violet;
- documentation and library: articles, proceedings of specialised conferences.
The MHRA databases have provided access to much of the documentation since 2002:
Castor: Bibliographical base (study reports, books, publications in the field of conservation and restoration, conference proceedings, articles, special issues, memoirs, theses).
Images: Image bank (photographs illustrating the studies carried out by the LRMH).
TCMH (Contemporary techniques used in historical monuments)
Designed and produced by the Directorate-General for Heritage (Office for Engineering and Technical Expertise -BIET in the Sub-Directorate for Historical Monuments and Protected Areas) the TCMH portal lists, among an inventory (drawn up following a study report of 1999) methods of analysis and investigation, techniques of repair, consolidation, cleaning of materials after 1980, those which were used on sites of restoration of historical monuments.
Note 1: Given the anteriority (1936) and the specificity of the Louvre laboratory, which became the Centre de recherches et de restauration des Musées de France (C2RMF), several movable objects protected as historical monuments have a scientific file in the documentation of the C2RMF. The C2RMF, a service with national jurisdiction, is the state operator in the field of research and restoration for the collections of the Museums of France. The research conducted at the C2RMF is the subject of the biannual publication of the journal Technè, published by the Réunion des Musées nationaux.
Note 2: Since its creation in Marseille in 2002, the CICRP (Interdisciplinary Centre for Heritage Conservation and Restoration), a public interest group involving the State and local authorities, has kept numerous scientific files on buildings (stone, wall painting, microbiology) or paintings from the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region and neighboring regions. The CICRP is involved in numerous research programs alongside the CRMH.
The Museum of Relief Plans (MPR)
The Museum of Relief Plans, a service under the competence of the General Directorate of Heritage, preserves 101 relief plans classified as historical monuments in 1927. For each of the strongholds represented, it preserves a large number of documents directly related to the history of the collection. In addition to the administrative archives, preserved from the end of the eighteenth century, the museum preserves two large sets of graphic documents: the most important and the richest includes the drawings and records preparatory to the manufacture of most models made in the nineteenth century. Their precision makes them unique documents for the history of the cities concerned. A set of a thousand maps and plans, handwritten or printed, catalogued and subject of a photographic campaign, completes this set.
National Monuments Centre (NMC)
In addition to the photographic archives accessible on the Memory base, the CMN has a rich collection of 450,000 ektachromes and negatives of all formats, particularly extensive for the hundred or so monuments that it ensures are open to the public. These photographic collections, exceptional documentary ensemble regularly updated, constitute an abundant iconography on architecture, mainly French, whether monumental or vernacular, but also on the collections preserved in monuments, whether paintings, drawings, sculptures or other movable objects. The Centre des monuments nationaux markets its holdings in the form of high-definition digital files and prints, to meet the range of editorial, research and exhibition requests.
CMN Views database: online searchable database with over 25,000 images.
The Archives of France and the National Archives
• The Archives de France portal http://www.archivesdefrance.culture.gouv.fr/chercher/
• Directory of Archival Services
• The European Archives Portal
The resources of the national archives
A guide to sources of art history at the Archives nationales and the Archives de Paris,
under the direction of Martine Plouvier, Comité des travaux historiques et scientifiques, 2012, 744 p.
This guide aims to renew an instrument that is half a century old and covers a chronological field from the Middle Ages to the XXIe century. It is organized around seven chapters: Ancien Régime fonds, post-French Revolution fonds, specific fonds such as those of the Central Minute Book of Paris Notaries, private archives, printed archives and particular typologies such as maps, plans, architectural collections, photographs, illuminated manuscripts, sigillographic collections and movable objects. The last chapter is devoted to the resources of the Archives de Paris.
Virtual Inventory Room (SIV)
The SIV search engine makes it possible to query all NA search instruments.
Inventories not listed in the SIV
Important funds for works on historical monuments are preserved in the series F19 (Cults) and F21 (Fine Arts).
Detailed fact sheets guide the researcher through the National Archives holdings:
- Research Tips
- 13 - A building
- 58 Research on property, buildings and furniture of ecclesiastical establishments (XIXe - XXe centuries), 2001
- 62 Main series concerning the history of art in 19e century, 2013
National Archives Databases (accessible by SIV)
- Archim: archival digitized images
- Egerie: general state of funds description
- Etarep: state of the registers of notaries of Paris of 16e century to the present
- Priam 3: inventory of post-1970 payments
National Archives of the World of Work (ANMT) in Roubaix
List of architectural collections
See also the funds donated or deposited by glass painters
Archives nationales d'outre-mer (ANOM) in Aix-en-Provence
The archives of the Defence Historical Service (SHD)
Databases and search engines
Access to ACM databases through the Collections search engine
The search engine provides access to several million documents and images: in 2016, 60 databases, 485 virtual exhibitions and 140 sites from both MCC and partner databases. The Collections search engine allows simultaneous access to the bases Mérimée, Palissy, Mémoire, but also Joconde (collections of the Museums of France) or Arcade (commissions of works of art). «Dialogue boxes» targeted on a corpus of works are made regularly (online in 2015: stolen and disappeared cultural property; in project: tapestries, stained glass, treasures of the churches of France).
The vocabularies of the Ministry of Culture
The GINCO platform aims to provide access, in a homogeneous and centralized way, to all scientific and technical vocabularies produced by the Ministry and its partners.
Thesaurus produced by the General Inventory of Cultural and Common Heritage in the Service of Historical Monuments:
- Thesaurus of the designation of movable objects (2014)
- Thesaurus of the designation of architectural works and spaces (2013)
The Atlas of Heritage
The heritage atlas is a cartographic access (by location) to cultural and heritage information (ethnographic, archaeological, architectural, urban and landscape). It allows to know, visualize, edit, contract and download geographical data on a territory. The regulatory data included will be enforceable by 2020 as part of the GEOPORTAIL of urban planning.
The heritage databases
Mérimée is a documentary database on French architectural heritage in all its diversity: civil, religious, military, funerary, industrial, garden architecture. Created in 1978, it was put online in 1995. It is co-produced and updated by MAP and the General Inventory.
The records of Mérimée are harvested by the Collections and Europeana search engines.
It includes three areas searchable separately or simultaneously:
- The historic monuments area makes available notices (45,000) on buildings protected as historical monuments from the orders and decrees of inscription and classification
- The domain General inventory proposes the Material Safety Data Sheets (147,000) of inventory files produced by the regional services
- The PREDOC domain hosts summary information from preliminary inventories or censuses.
Palissy is a documentary database on French movable heritage in all its diversity: furniture, paintings, sculptures and religious objects, domestic, scientific and industrial. Created in 1989, it went online in 1998. It is co-produced and updated by MAP and the General Inventory.
Palissy records are harvested by the Collections and Europeana search engines.
It includes two areas searchable separately or simultaneously:
- The historic monuments area makes available notices (145,000) on movable objects protected as historical monuments from the orders and decrees of inscription and classification
- The domain General inventory Provides Material Safety Data Sheets (170,000) of inventory records completed by Regional Services.
Memory is a database of still images the General Directorate of Heritage and Architecture relating to French architectural, movable, archaeological and photographic heritage in all its diversity: buildings, objects, sites, institutional or author photographic collections. Created in 1995, it went online in 1996. It is co-produced and updated by the MAP, the regional services of historical monuments, archaeology and inventory.
Memory records are harvested by the Collections and Europeana search engines.
It includes four areas searchable separately or simultaneously:
- The domain Multimedia library of heritage and photography provides images (650,000) relating to movable objects and buildings protected as historical monuments, as well as the collections of its department of photographic archives
- The historic monuments area (CRMH) and field Archaeology (ARCHEO) propose the images of the regional directorates of cultural affairs
- The domain General inventory (IVR) provides images of inventory records made by regional departments.
General access to the Architecture and Heritage portal
ACM portal access/resources/databases
Access via the MAP
European and international databases
European Digital Library (images, texts, sounds, videos) launched in November 2008 by the European Commission. The very simplified records refer to national databases. Foreign photo libraries useful for French historical monuments are accessible by Europeana.
Example: Bildindex of art and architecture: German documentation centre for the history of art, photo library of the University of Marburg.
The Getty research institute: Search Tools and Databases
Databases on the origins of works of art (inventories, sales), terminology, bibliography.