Fot. Michał Radwański / Ośrodek KARTA
About the KARTA Center Foundation Archive

The KARTA Center Foundation Archive was originally established back in 1996. Its mission involves the collecting, professional analysis, safekeeping and dissemination of photographs documenting the history of Poland and Central and Eastern Europe from the late 19th century to the present day.

Its archival resources currently comprise 500 thousand photographs in the form of both negatives, positive prints and digital files. The resources in question are constantly growing, mostly thanks to private donors who provide the archive with their family albums, prints and negatives.

The resources of the Archive are being analysed on an ongoing basis. Our collections are constantly being reorganised and inventoried. For each collection, a description in our IT system is made, containing the data concerning its history, author and contents. Collection inventories are available on the sub-sites dedicated to individual collections.

The Archive ensures that the resources are secure and stored in an appropriate manner. In order to achieve this goal, an extensive digitalisation programme has been launched. It is being conducted in accordance with international standards. All digital files are labelled in detail and then published on our website. At the present stage, the website contains nearly 100 thousand photographs originating both from the collection of the KARTA Center Foundation Photographic Archive as well as from institutions which engage in cooperation with the Archive partner institutions.

Once properly analysed, the photographs are made available to researchers in a variety of fields, serving as illustrations for books, scholarly articles and popular publications. Furthermore, the Archive also makes the photographs from its collection available for various exhibitions as well as for use in television or in films. The photographs from the Archive’s resources can be made available for use in both social and educational projects and in commercial projects.

The KARTA Center Foundation Archive also engages in publishing activities and organises various exhibitions. In 2013, the KARTA Center released the album entitled “Irena Jarosińska. Picture Writing”.

The exceptional photography for which Jarosińska is known was also presented during two exhibitions prepared by experts working at the Photographic Archive: “The Warsaw Unrest. An Exhibition of Photography by Irena Jarosińska” (the History Meeting House, Warsaw 2012) and “The Minimalism of Words. The Theatre of Miron Białoszewski” (The KARTA Institute, Warsaw 2015/2016).

In 2016, further photographs from the collection of the KARTA Center Archive – this time taken by Jerzy Konrad Maciejewski – were presented to the wider public. The exhibition was presented at the Kordegarda (Guardhouse) Gallery in Warsaw in late November and early December 2016. The exhibition was accompanied by a catalogue.

The www.foto.karta.org.pl website, presenting the resources of the Photographic Archive, was originally established back in 2012. Towards the end of 2016, the website was optimised to offer an even better experience to photography enthusiasts. At the same time, the users of the website are requested to contact us whenever they feel that they may assist us in the process of identification of the authors of the photographs presented or to contribute towards the descriptions accompanying such photographs.

Fot. Michał Radwański / Ośrodek KARTA
The KARTA Center Foundation Archive resources

The KARTA Center Archive contains 500 thousand photographs donated by private individuals, civic groups and photographers. Our collections bear testimony to both major political events and family meetings, to the history of entire communities and regions as well as of individual persons. Our resources include unique photographs dating back to the second half of the 19th century and the 20th century. The Archive contains many lavish collections of photographs portraying the life in Poland during the pre-war period (including the life in the Eastern Borderlands), World War II-era photographs (pictures of German-occupied Poland, including the city of Warsaw, as well as of Poles forced into exile) as well as photographs documenting the Soviet repressions during the war.

The Archive also keeps pictures documenting the social, cultural and political life in post-war Poland (see the collections of Irena Jarosińska, Jarosław Tarań, Romuald Broniarek).

The KARTA Center Foundation Archive also remains in possession of unique documentation of the activities of the democratic opposition in the Polish People's Republic, including the Workers' Defence Committee (KOR) and the “Solidarity” Independent Self-governing Trade Union (the strike at the Vladimir Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk, the activities of Lech Wałęsa); the Archive also has a collection of photographs which portray the life under the martial law of 1981-1983. Our resources also include pictures documenting the political transformation in both Poland and other countries of Central and Eastern Europe, including the Round Table negotiations.


All of the digitised resources of the KARTA Institute Photographic Archive are available online at foto.karta.org.pl.

Our advanced search engine allows you to easily access our on-line resources.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact us by e-mail: foto // karta.org.pl, or by telephone: (+48 22) 646-36-90.