Frequently asked questions about digitisation

Below you will find the answers to a number of frequently asked questions relating to the digitisation of our visual documentation. Would you like to know more? Feel free to email us:


Availability of visual documentation during digitisation

  • What will the RKD be digitising?
    • The RKD holds unique archives, a store of visual documentation as well as a vast art-historical library with a focus on Netherlandish art in an international context. Only a proportion of our collections can currently be consulted online. The bulk of the collection of visual documentation is still awaiting digitisation and can only be accessed by opening the green boxes on the open shelves of the Study Room at the RKD. We are in the process of digitising this material as part of our strategy to move from analogue to digital research.
  • When will digitisation of the visual documentation start?
    • Digitisation of our visual documentation is due to begin in April 2018. At the moment we are formulating a contract with an external agency that will be helping us implement the project. This document will outline the workflow and establish the overall time frame. Naturally we will keep you informed of the arrangements being made.

  • How many records in the collection of visual documentation will undergo digitisation?
    • The first phase will cover 1.5 million objects, stored in 15,500 boxes and filed away in about 80,000 folders.

  • How will the preparation process affect visitors?
    • In preparation for the digitisation process we are putting the contents of the green boxes in order. This means, for example, that we check the contents of each box are in the correct order, with the items in the reading orientation, the correct side facing up. You will soon notice RKD staff carrying out this work in the Study Room. Our aim throughout the process is to minimise disruption to visitors.
  • How long will the visual documentation be unavailable?
    • The material will be digitised in batches. Batches will be unavailable for 2 to 3 months. The maximum number of boxes per batch is 1,000. As part of our post-processing procedures we carry out random quality control checks. After a period of up to 3 months the scanned content of the green boxes can be consulted digitally by means of a temporary online app.

  • How do I know if the items I wish to consult are available?
    • Phase 1 of the digitisation process will be carried out in the following order:
      1. Old Netherlandish Drawing
      2. Old Netherlandish Painting
      3. Nineteenth-century Art
      4. Old Netherlandish Art other than painting or drawing

      In the course of March 2018 we hope to provide you with a schedule indicating when each of these sections will be digitised.

      Once the above sections have been satisfactorily processed, we will start work on the boxes next in the queue, containing Foreign Art and Modern & Contemporary Art. Digitisation of this material is expected to begin in 2019.

Availability of visual documentation following digitisation

  • Will the visual documentation be returned to public access in the Study Room?
    • No. Once the material in the green boxes has been scanned, it is made available digitally through a temporary online app and, in due course, RKD Explore. The green boxes will not be returned to the shelves in the Study Room.
  • Will I be able to consult the visual documentation online straightaway upon digitisation?
    • Yes. As soon as we have approved the scans of the visual documentation from the green boxes, you can consult them using a temporary online app. While we undertake the first phase of work, you will be able to search the collection of visual documentation much as before in the Study Room, but using an electronic display corresponding to the old shelves and boxes. In the meantime we will be busy behind the scenes, developing new functionalities for RKD Explore which will help maximise research efficiency.
  • Will the green boxes still be available for request from the depot?

    • The digital files offer more scope for research than the analogue records in the boxes. Given the high resolution of the scans and the meticulousness with which the material will be digitised, you will no longer need to refer to the physical documents.

  • What about the quality of the digital outputs?
    • In order to facilitate good research, the visual documentation is scanned at a resolution of 600 ppi, which is the highest standard. Documents will be scanned on both sides, except if the second side is blank. All scans will be made digitally accessible. Images will be cut out and separately entered again into the database. Inscriptions on objects will be digitised in as much detail as possible and will be turned into findable files within RKD Explore at a later point. 

Benefits of working digitally

  • What are the benefits of digitisation for me as visitor to the RKD?  
    • By making the visual documentation accessible in a digital format we ensure that users will be able to consult the collection at any time of day, anywhere in the world. We will also gradually introduce new research tools. For example, you will have the option of saving the results of your research on to your own ‘desktop’, where the information can then be analysed, edited or shared with other researchers.    
  • What is the added benefit of visiting the RKD in person?
    • The RKD is committed to providing both a digital and physical platform for art-historical research, development and contact. Our archives, library and other collections are available for consultation in the RKD’s study and reading rooms where members of staff are on hand to help you with questions related to your research. We also regularly organise lectures on themes that we hope will interest you. We intend to install new facilities in the Study Room, which will enhance the existing digital research possibilities even further. For example, large tablets and computer screens that allow you to compare images in even greater detail and create a large selection and make side-by-side comparisons.

Impact on research during this period

  • Will I still be able to carry out my research, as planned?
    • We aim to cause as little disruption as possible to our normal level of service during digitisation. Nonetheless you may find that certain documents relevant to your research are temporarily unavailable. Requests for particular files will be assessed with due consideration for your planned research and we will make every effort to minimise inconvenience. For questions please contact us at

  • What should I do if I am planning to carry out research in this period?
    • Are you planning important research in 2018 or 2019 that requires you to have access to our collections? Then please get in touch with us at, so that we can discuss availability directly with you.