ICCROM Register of Heritage Samples Archives
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Lens Media Lab Collection, Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, Yale University

Type Collection

Date of creation of the archive


Date of closure of the archive


Creator(s) of the archive

Paul Messier

Summary Description

The archive contains samples of photographic paper classified by date, manufacturer, brand, and manufacturer descriptions of key visual attributes, including texture, reflectance, base color, and paper thickness. These key attributes have been measured for each sample. Material enters the collection either in original manufacturer packaging or in manufacturer assembled sample books.


Type and number of units
7 177 samples

Material type

Photographic paper

Geographic Distribution

Australia; Belgium; Czech Republic; France; Germany; Hungary; India; Italy; Japan; Russia; United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; United States of America

Statement of Significance

The collection is probably the largest of largest of its kind in the world. With samples from 110 manufacturers, it contains all possible variants spanning over 100 years of manufacture. The collection is fully catalogued by manufacturer, brand, and date. There are measurements made for the key visual and physical properties of texture, reflectance, base color, and paper thickness. The collection is used for the purposes of authentication and for studies that support photographer expressive aims and spheres of influence. Beyond these uses, the collection preserves and makes accessible the material history of black and white paper, a fundamental medium of 20th century visual culture and now increasingly obsolete.


Yes - upon request

Type of users

Historians of art, industry, visual culture. Conservators, photographers, teachers, and students.


Art History
Conservation Science
History of technology
Preventive conservation
Reference collection
Technical art history

Finding aids

Catalog and website

External link