The contribution of ICPE to ARCHLAB is offered through a complex network of archives and libraries.
The General Archive is responsible for the safekeeping of documentation generated by the IPCE itself and by the institutions which, from the 1940s onwards, preceded it in its functions of conserving and restoring Spanish Cultural Heritage. It contains the following archives:
Conservation and restoration project archive. This preserves the records of the conservation and restoration of movable and immovable cultural assets, including reports, memoranda and graphical and photographic documentation of the process of work performed since 1961.
Architectural Heritage Inventory (1979-1982). The Architectural Heritage Inventory (link to: http://ipce.mcu.es/documentacion/archivo/fondos/inventario.html), a document record dating back over 30 years, has once again come to light thanks to the retrieval of the former database created in the late Seventies and early Eighties of the last century. The Architectural Heritage Inventory belongs to the task of inventory and cataloguing historical and cultural heritage which began in Spain in the mid-19th century with the creation of the Monuments Commissions, a task continued by the National Artistic, Archaeological and Ethnological Information Service in 1961, inherited by the Artistic, Archaeological and Ethnological Information Centre, which in the late 1970s created six inventories courtesy of the Directorate-General for Fine Arts. The Inventory constitutes a hugely important record of the characteristics of Spain’s architectural heritage three decades ago, and many of the properties included in it were, following their listing, subsequently placed on the Register of Assets of Cultural Interest.
War Archive. This is the name given to the documentation generated by the two institutions created during the Civil War to protect Spanish Historical Heritage: the Madrid Delegated Requisitions Board, on the Republican side, and the Artistic Recovery Service, on the Nationalist side.
Blueprints Library (link to: http://ipce.mcu.es/documentacion/archivo/fondos/planoteca.html). The Blueprints Library of the Institute of Cultural Heritage of Spain comprises more than 20,000 blueprints of churches, monasteries, palaces, castles and historical/artistic sites across all of Spain’s provinces. Most of these correspond to restorations performed from the 1940s up to the late 1990s by the bodies responsible for the restoration of monuments, of which today’s Institute is the successor. It nonetheless also includes blueprints associated with the Architectural Heritage Inventory datasheets generated by the Artistic, Archaeological and Ethnological Information Centre during the 1980s.
The documentation dates in the main from the 1970s and 1980s, although an intriguing collection, dedicated essentially to castles and historic/artistic sites, predates this period.
Historical Heritage Photo Library
The IPCE Photo Library (link to: http://ipce.mcu.es/documentacion/fototeca.html) comprises more than 700,000 photographic documents covering a timespan from the 1860s to the present day, dealing with subjects which reflect the transformation of Spain’s Cultural Heritage from the early days of photography. In the case of the oldest collections, the original negatives are available, although the Photo Library also has a notable volume of period positives. Taken as a whole it constitutes an archive of remarkable value, and its holdings are in continuous expansion. They are sourced and added to via two routes:
Through acquisition by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, by means of purchases or the acceptance of bequests
Through contributions by the IPCE itself, which has continuously expanded its photographic collections as a part of the process of documenting and archiving its cultural restoration and conservation projects since 1962.
The archives which belong to the Photo Library are:
- Arbaiza Archive
- Baldomero & Aguayo Archive
- Cabré Archive
- Conde de Polentinos
- Conservation and Restoration
- Artistic Information
- Loty Archive
- Monuments and Archaeology
- Moreno Archive
- Pando Archive
- Ruiz Vernacci Archive
- Vaamonde Archive
- Villanueva Archive
- Wunderlich Archive
- Other holdings
Research and Training Area Archive
This archive dates back to 1967 when the IPCE was first created (originally as the ICROA). It is a State-owned archive, its holdings generated by the technical staff of the Institute and other institutions (CENIM, INTA, etc.) or companies contracted for this purpose, its entire holdings being the property of the IPCE. This archive contains more than 2,000 x-rays, micro-samples, stratigraphic charts, spectrums and photographs performed with a range of innovative techniques applied to the study of the types of cultural assets available to the laboratory:
- Paintings: murals, on board, on canvas, on metal sheeting, on leather, etc.
- Sculptures: wood, metal, plaster, terracotta, etc.
- Archaeological materials: ceramics, glass and crystal, metal, stone, bone, mosaics, etc.
- Graphical documents
- Palaeontological remains, etc.
It may be viewed as a fundamental reference point for the study of the cultural assets of periods, artists and schools ranging from Prehistory to the transition between the 19th and 20th centuries. These cultural assets are drawn from libraries and museums with a range of owners (public – national, regional or local – and private), church institutions and a range of public bodies (universities, royal academies, foundations, research centres) all of them covering a nationwide scope. On occasion, in consideration for the loan of the work, typically for temporary exhibitions, interventions have been performed on privately owned works.
With 40,000 volumes and more than 1,600 journal titles, the IPCE Library enjoys particular specialisation in the conservation and restoration of cultural assets, and in the various aspects of Historical Heritage. The Library was designed by Fernando Higueras and Antonio Miró in 1985, within the context of the refurbishment of their own plans for the building constructed 20 years earlier. It occupies the circular space beneath the concrete cylinder which supports the central courtyard of the IPCE. It was, in fact, the first library with a circular layout to be built in Spain. It comprises three rings which are open to users (the furniture likewise designed by the same architects), plus a further two depository rings.
Monument Catalogue of Spain (1900-1961). (Link to: http://biblioteca.cchs.csic.es/digitalizacion_tnt/index.html). In February 2008 the Directorate-General for Fine Arts and Cultural Assets of the Ministry of Culture, through the IPCE Spanish Cultural Heritage Institute, and the Institute of History of the Centre for Human and Social Sciences of the CSIC (Higher Scientific Research Council) signed a specific collaboration agreement for the restoration, digitization and dissemination of copies of the Monument Catalogue of Spain. These copies, held for many years in the photo library of the Department of Art History at the Institute of History, are now located at the Tomás Navarro Tomás Library at the Centre for Human Social Sciences. The collaboration agreement has led to a number of initiatives. To begin with, the Spanish Cultural Heritage Institute has restored and digitised around one hundred and fifty volumes which, over the course of the first half of the 20th century, served to inventory the most significant artistic and archaeological monuments of most Spanish provinces. Meanwhile, the Tomás Navarro Tomás Library, together with the Scientific Research Information Resource Unit at the CSIC, has created a website providing simple, intuitive and user-friendly access to all the digitised copies of the Monument Catalogue of Spain, in addition to key information about the cultural project which prompted the catalogue to be produced. These digitised monument catalogues will also be included in the CSIC collection of digitised Holdings, Simurg. Through these initiatives, experts at the Spanish State’s leading body specialising in restoration, research, documentation, training and consultancy for the conservation of Historical Heritage, in partnership with researchers at the Institute of History with an interest in the generation of knowledge about cultural heritage, and librarians and experts in scientific documentation at the CSIC, have joined forces to upload a unique cultural product for universal online accessibility: the Monument Catalogue of Spain. A walk-through of all manner of monuments, some of which have now disappeared, has now been made available to any citizen with an interest in Spain’s cultural heritage.
Name: María Martín Gil