One of the most powerful factors of the development of society is its visual informatization, closely connected to the development of photography and digital photographic technologies in particular. Visual photographic information, containing the global experience of humankind, not only serves as the material embodiment of historical memory, but also constitutes the foundation of the further economic, intellectual, and spiritual progress of society.

Preservation and conservation of photographic collections and making visual information publicly accessible has become a global challenge. Guidelines on preservation and conservation international policies in the archives and libraries heritage, adopted at the UNESCO General Conference in 1986, suggest the creation of national programs for the preservation of library collections in every country. Such programs are developed and successfully implemented in the USA, France, Italy, the Netherlands, England, Switzerland, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, and Sweden.

Museums, libraries, and archives of the Russian Federation hold a great number of photographic records and documents, including rare and valuable materials dating back to the time of the invention of photography. Until recently, the problems of investigation, preservation, and conservation of photographic collections in Russia had been neglected, although photographs make up at least a third of all museum objects in the country.

The current conditions of photographic collection maintenance in our country reveal that even the most vital needs of institutions are not met. Storage facilities are often located in hardly suitable rooms, which often fail to meet safety and security requirements. There is an evident lack of equipment for conservation, as well as necessary tools and materials for restoration works. Moreover, there is a shortage of qualified specialists such as curators and conservators. Not only policies need to be updated, but also methodological, technical, and technological support must be secured in order to carry out the activities connected with preservation, conservation, and providing access to photographic collections.

The practice has shown that the problems related to the preservation and conservation of the national collection of photographic records should be tackled at a national level, under a National Program.

According to the Order No. 226 dated 4 December 2008 of the Ministry of Culture, the State Museum and Exhibition Centre ROSPHOTO is entrusted to perform functions of a research and instructional center for the realization of the Program for Preservation of Photographic Documents in the State-Owned Collections of the Russian Federation.

The goals of the Program are:

  • to bring the task of preservation and conservation of museum, library, and archival photographic collections to the national level, drawing the attention of the legislative and executive authorities to it and giving it a status of a national policy;
  • to coordinate the activities of institutions and private individuals aimed at the collection, registration, preservation, and use of photographic records;
  • to accumulate financial and human resources for the preservation of Russian photographic collections and creation of the necessary basic conditions for the realization of this task;
  • to encourage and enable the use of the country's scientific, industrial, and technical capacities for the solution of the national cultural and informational heritage preservation problems.

The Program aims to solve the following tasks:

  • organization of adequate storage conditions for photographic collections;
  • organization of a complex security system for the storage of national photographic collections;
  • adopting special policies related to the preservation and use of the photographic collections;
  • creation of a national register of the Russian photographic collections;
  • development of a regulatory framework and methodological support of museums’, libraries’, and archives’ activities connected with the preservation of photographic collections;
  • technical support of the Program, implementation of technical and technological innovations into the use and maintenance of photographic collections;
  • development of an educational system for training qualified specialists, curators, and conservators at vocational schools and higher educational institutions. Providing museums, libraries, and archives with trained specialists and respective employment opportunities;
  • shaping public opinion on the issues of preservation of photographic collections.


The National Program for Preservation of Photographic Documents in the State-Owned Collections of the Russian Federation, to be carried out within a few years, includes the following subprograms:

  1. Conservation of photographic collections;
  2. Photographic records of the Russian Federation;
  3. Safety and security of photographic collections;
  4. Preservation of photographic collections in use;
  5. Registration and recordkeeping of photographic collections;
  6. Human resources in the preservation of photographic collections.

The overall coordination of the Program is carried out by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and the State Museum and Exhibition Center ROSPHOTO. Inter-institutional consulting is provided by the board of experts in the preservation of photographic collections under the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation.

Currently, as part of the realization of the Program, ROSPHOTO carries out the following activities:

  • Monitoring state-owned collections of the Russian Federation, providing consultations for state museums and collections;
  • Preliminary research for the creation of a register of the most important objects in Russian photographic collections;
  • Providing practical consultations for specialists in conservation and restoration of photographs;
  • Publication and promotion of methodological handbooks for specialists working with photographic collections;
  • Scientific, technical, and technological expertise of photographic materials.

Last updated on 28.03.2018