The need to systematically digitize and provide an online version of our resources was recognized by the Museum relatively early, although the execution of the first major digitization projects started only in 2010. A whole decade earlier, works began on creating Lotus – an electronic database of objects, thus making the NMK the leader in this field.
In addition to works on the creation of an electronic database, the museum's Photography Studio was supplied with digital equipment, and standards for the descriptions of digital photos were provisionally established. Due to limited museum funds, these activities did not have a spectacular character. It was only through the openness to external funding and opportunities provided by EU projects that the museum began to exist in the digital world. The acquired funds enabled the museum to equip the Photography Studio with the finest equipment, expand it and increase its digitization activities. Parallel to the activities whose implementation was enabled by the externally obtained funds, the Museum staff embraced the issues faced by the majority of museums in Poland and adopted high standards of quality and resolution of the obtained images, their description method, hierarchical dictionaries and standards for metadata description.
Such solutions allow for obtaining photographs that meet the requirements of printing, creating large reproductions, and enlargement for academic and research purposes. Subjecting an object to a one-off photography session minimizes the risk of accidental damage.
In the collection management system, used by the museum staff on daily basis, 90,269 objects have digital visual documentation. However, due to the fact that not all the photographs stored in the system were taken in accordance with today's high standards, our virtual collection catalogue
www.kultura.malopolska.pl does not feature all of them. The above mentioned catalogue is dedicated to researchers and conservators, as it allows not only for significant enlargement of the viewed object, but also for the presentation of fragments of works, their reverses, signatures or the progress of maintenance works. It is the first aggregation-type catalogue of museum collections and the largest so far online catalogue in Poland. The Internet portal offers the same functionality as online catalogues of the world's museums.
In 2015, we photographed more than 16,000 museum and library objects. It must be remembered that this number includes complex and multi-page items which require several, or sometimes even several dozen photographs. By the end of this year, we plan to photograph over 4,000 objects.
Another website – https://cyfrowe.mnk.pl – is dedicated to bibliophiles and presents multi-page library object files, enabling the viewers to browse freely and read them on the screen. There is no need to convince anyone of the benefits of making manuscripts and old prints available in an electronic version. The above-mentioned address features 5,996 library items.