Heritage and Photography Library (MPP)
As an international reference collection in the field of photography, the Médiathèque du patrimoine et de la photographie (MPP) has the specificity of preserving complete photographic collections.
The Médiathèque du patrimoine et de la photographie preserves several million documents (at least 15 negatives and four prints) that shed light on the work of photographers, from shooting to the different states of the photographic image: original negatives, projection plates, autochromes, slides, prints, archives.
Today, the Médiathèque du patrimoine et de la photographie preserves collections on a variety of themes:
- Sites and monuments: collection of the administration of historical monuments, architects and scholars.
- Fine Arts: fonds de l'administration des Beaux-arts et des musées (until the 1970s), fonds concernant les expositions universelle et coloniales (1889-1937), fonds de salons.
- First World War: photographs taken during the conflict, foreign press funds, Ann Morgan funds.
- Portraits, shows and cinema: professional portrait workshops (Nadar, Studio Harcourt, Lévin) and stage photographs (Corbeau, Voinquel, Lowenthal),
- Travels and expeditions: photographs taken on all continents since 1850.
- Works by authors, including Willy Ronis and André Kertèsz.
- Collection of amateur photographers, including the Touring Club de France and Émile-Constant Puyo.
The greatest names of photography of the 19th and 20th centuries rub shoulders, such as Baldus, Le Gray, Mestral, Delessert, Marville, Nègre, Mieusement, Atget, Seeberger, Le Boyer, Kollar, René-Jacques, Boudinet and many others, to form one of the largest national photographic collections.
The photographs kept by this department come mainly from three entities:
- The library and archives of the Historical Monuments Service,
- The Photographic Archives Service,
- Association française pour la diffusion du patrimoine photographique (AFDPP).
The heliographic mission of 1851 marks the beginning of the photographic collection of the Historical Monuments Service. Throughout the 19th century, he continued to acquire prints from photographers such as Mieusement, Marville, Durand and Heuzé. In the 20th century, architectural collections such as Lenormand and Trouvelot enriched this ensemble. The photographs of the chief architects of the Historical, Silver and Digital Monuments always contribute to the enrichment of the MPP collections. They are essentially buildings, objects or archaeological sites protected under the title of Historic Monuments, before, during or after restoration.
At the same time, from 1883, the exploitation of the negatives ordered or acquired by the Fine Arts administration was entrusted to a concessionaire. To Médéric Mieusement, and then to his son-in-law Paul Robert, followed the brothers Étienne and Louis Neurdein, each contributing to the fund of part of their photographic production. In 1915 the Photographic Service of Armies was created under the dual supervision of the Ministries of War and Public Instruction, on which the Fine Arts, which form the core, depend. After 1918, the Société des archives photographiques d'art et d'histoire and the photographic agency of the Caisse nationale des Monuments historiques and sites ensured the commercial distribution of these collections, today distributed by the photographic agency of the Reunion of National Museums.
During the 1920s and 1930s, in the interwar period, the Atget and Martin-Sabon funds were added to the service, and the Jacques Doucet (Art and Archaeology Library) and Lefèvre-Pontalis (Société française d'archéologie) funds were deposited. Acquisitions continued after World War II with that of the Nadar workshop in 1950. Since the 1970s, many collections from the 19th century (Normand, Brébisson, Banville) and the 20th century (Allégret, Pic, Arlaud) have joined this ensemble.
Finally, in the 1980s, the Association française de diffusion du patrimoine photographique (AFDPP) brought together sixteen state donations and acquisitions. Following the dissolution of the association in 2004, the Médiathèque du patrimoine et de la photographie hosted these funds. The reconciliation of the collections of the Photographic Archives with those of the Historical Monuments has enabled the preservation, within the same institution, of the negatives and prints of many photographers. This particularity is reinforced by the funds from the AFDPP.