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Each year finds the Centre d’iconographie genevoise further enriched by donations and bequests from individuals, institutions, and photographers, who entrust the Centre with the long-term conservation of their works.

Acquisition 2015 : "Vue du quartier de Rive depuis la promenade Saint-Antoine", Jean-Jacques Champin, vers 1830, Bibliothèque de Genève, inv. CIG 2015-030 E

The Bibliothèque de Genève looks to acquire any work documenting the visual history of Geneva and its surroundings, and the transformations they have experienced over time. To that end the Bibliothèque is the recipient of generous donations, and more rarely will try to purchase the rare items that come onto the market. Given the considerable development of images in our societies since World War II, the vast majority of acquisitions today concern photography. In the past few years, some 100,000 images have been added to the Centre d’iconographie genevoise’s collections each year.

Images constitute a fragile legacy, especially the most recent photographic supports. These supports were produced industrially and meant for immediate use; they were not designed to defy the passage of time. Their long-term conservation requires several specialized treatments beforehand and placement in climate-controlled storage. The significant material and human investment that the conservation of images represents means that a strict acquisitions policy must be followed.

Acquisition 2014 : Scène de tournage à la Treille d’une émission de la télévision française consacrée à Michel Simon, Christian Murat, 17 août 1965, Bibliothèque de Genève, inv. CIG Murat N06x06 1965-08-17 Sim 4

For further information…

The Centre d’iconographie genevoise only conserves images of documentary interest. The support and technique involved in their execution (painting, sculpture, drawing, engraving, photography, etc.), like the background of the people who produced them, are of little importance.

On the other hand, the Centre does not collect objects like tools and utensils used in daily life, architectural elements, furniture, signboards, or fabrics. Nor does the Centre d’iconographie genevoise try to acquire, as a matter of priority, items that might have an aesthetic value detached from any reference to reality, for example still-lifes or other works of the imagination.

The Centre is indeed interested, however, in artists and craftsmen who produced the images it conserves within its walls. The institution is thus one of the most important collections of local art, particularly in the fields of portraiture, printmaking, and photography. The Centre has taken on a special responsibility as a storage facility, research center, and venue for displaying and promoting Genevan photography, given the specific nature of the medium, in which the distinction between the artistic and the documentary image doesn’t always make sense.

The Centre d’iconographie genevoise pays particular attention to the quality of the images it adds to its collections. The quality must be high enough that the image could be published. It is the reason why the Centre generally does not accept recent images by nonprofessionals.

Areas of acquisition

In terms of its acquisition policy, the Centre d’iconographie genevoise focuses above all on the following:

From the point of view of the medium

– on views and still images (cards, paintings, drawings, prints, or photographs). The Centre d’iconographie genevoise is not tasked with collecting moving images (films and videos).

– on objects (sculptures, pictures, various objects) inasmuch as they convey an image of Geneva and its inhabitants.

– the Centre d’iconographie genevoise is not tasked with collecting architects’ records and archives (floor plans, documentation), unless it is to add to collections the Centre already owns.

From the thematic point of view

– on documentary images of Geneva and its surrounding region, and images showing important figures linked with Geneva and its surrounding region.

– on images covering the geographic area defined as the Genevan basin, i.e., the region located between the Voirons, the Salève, the Vuache and the Jura. On a case-by-case basis according to the medium, author, and date the image was created, the field can be enlarged to include the Genevan landscape as far as Mont Blanc.

– the Centre d’iconographie genevoise does not normally collect images of a personal or private nature.

From the historical point of view

– the collections of the Centre d’iconographie genevoise seek to cover as continuously as possible the development and transformation of Geneva and its surrounding region.

– the Centre d’iconographie genevoise looks to acquire all images that have played a part in the history of local documentary images and are of interest because of their rarity or technique, or the novel character of their subject.

From the point of view of the creators of the images

– on high-quality images, mainly those produced by professionals or highly qualified amateurs.

– the Centre d’iconographie genevoise is not tasked with collecting images solely for their aesthetic character.

– the acquisitions policy of the Centre d’iconographie genevoise does not take into account the origins of the people who produced the images it collects, and is not designed to concentrate above all on items created by Genevans or artists or craftsmen connected with Geneva.

– the Centre d’iconographie genevoise does, however, try to collect as completely as possible items that spring from the work of the main artists (printmakers, draftsmen, photographers) who created views of Geneva and the surrounding region; this includes collecting items that are not directly related to documentary images like photographic materials, archival records and items, and works that are not documentary in nature.

– the Centre d’iconographie genevoise does not gather images produced by public or semi-public entities that are institutionally earmarked for public archives (the Archives of the State of Geneva, the Archives of the City of Geneva, etc.).

Passage de la Tour 2
1205 Genève

T: +41 22 418 46 70
F: +41 22 418 46 71

Monday to Friday: 9 am – 12 am (by appointment)

Nicolas Schätti
T: +41 22 418 46 77