The Bridgeman Art Library

Bridgeman Art Library

The Bridgeman Art Library is a commercial enterprise established in 1972 to provide a picture library (image reproduction service) to the publishing industry. Its existing holdings include over 120,000 high quality large format transparencies drawn from collections of international galleries and museums and specializing in fine art and antiquities from 15000 BC to the present day. BAL operates internationally through a network of agents and reciprocal agreements with other picture libraries in over 10 countries, a CD-ROM catalogue and a Website. Its market is also international with over 13000 clients covering a wide spectrum of the publishing and advertising industries in over 50 countries. The Bridgeman Art Library is the world's most comprehensive source of fine art images for reproduction. Its international collection currently represents more than 800 museums, galleries and contemporary artists and is growing daily. Every theme, subject and style is covered, from cave paintings to the latest work from contemporary artists. Images are stored as large format photographic transparencies, catalogued using simple key words and collated into their computer database, allowing the user to browse on screen through centuries of art.

The Bridgeman Art Library has been involved in two European Projects over the last four years, Image-In (under Impact) and Artweb. The Image-In project researched methods of supplying images for reproduction within an electronic and online environment. The project set up a network between a number of image archives and publishers and carried out research into the best methods of fulfilling selection and delivery. Following the findings within ImageIn the Bridgeman Art Library put together a commercial implementation plan for an online resource in conjunction with two other major European Libraries. The resulting consortium put a proposal together called Artweb and received funding from the EU under the INFO2000 programm for Cultural Heritage. The project is now in its implementation phase and is due for completion in the year 2000. The consortium members are The Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin, Germany; The Bridgeman Art Library, La Reunion des Musees Nationaux, Paris, France, CTS Technology Ltd, Dublin, Ireland and Image Finder Systems AG, Zurich, Switzerland.

With its valuable experience in online trading in images, the Library will be involved with the Industry Panel WP2, Still Image Analysis WP5 and the Database Interface WP8. The main individual at Bridgeman responsible for liasing with MOUMIR partners will be Mr. Lewis Orr. The Library will contribute over 3000 images as test material to MOUMIR that will be employed at all levels of the network. It will further provide a user feedback forum to better define the needs of a typical web based image trading environment. BAL provides the ideal compliment to the rest of the network with its understanding of the 'real' needs of users with respect to retrieval of images.

Leigh Maynard is the IT manager at the Bridgeman Art Library. Over the last four years she has been instrumental in the transition from a traditional transparency archive to a digital based service. This included the development of Bridgeman's CD-ROM catalogues and the design of the website catalogue and image ordering service. As well as maintaining systems for the London office she provides support and development for Bridgeman offices in New York and Paris.

Sarah Rice.