Digitization at your premises

The Marseille Museums benefit from a shared digitization workshop


The nine museums of the City of Marseille (France) present a selection of artworks from eleven collections. These collections give you the chance to discover a wide range of disciplines, periods and cultures and bring together more than 100, 000 artworks.
In 2009, curators Annie Philippon and Benoit Coutancier, created the collections department with the aim of monitoring transversal missions common to all museums (inventory, digitization, etc.). The digitization of collections allows museums to initially enrich their digital collection management software and then their digital databases.
It is also a way to help and support the digital revolution of the city’s museums.

The collections Department has decided, for practical reasons, to have all the digitization operations carried out in Marseille and not in the service provider’s workshops. A prior step of pooling all the needs is done before each campaign.

Marie Villajos

Assistant curator of the collections of Marseille’s museums


For the digitization campaigns of its collections, the city has decided to consolidate the needs of its various museums in order to share the costs. Marie Villajos tells us the approach implemented.
Once the collections to be digitized and the service provider have been chosen, the teams from each museum bring the documents to the Heritage Museum Conservation Offices, that is to say the shared reserves of the Marseille Museums, which host the digitization projects.
With its 6,000 square meter warehouse, the Heritage Museum Conservation Office can keep all the selected documents in the stores surrounding the digitization workshop for the duration of the contract. The wide range of documents to be digitized and their formats has led the service provider Arkhênum to install two types of scanners on site to cover all needs: a Digibook with a book holder and a scanner for phototypes.

In situ digitization: responsiveness and efficiency

Digitization can save time

The first digitization campaign in 2011 focused mainly on the physical inventory records, the museums’ daily work tools. Following this operation, the inventory registers were put online in the intranet and were accessible in PDF format for all the teams. This has helped various teams save precious time and avoid handling documents that are sometimes fragile.
The extension of the project for two additional years enabled to focus on the digitization of the collections themselves: photographic prints, glass plates, drawings and prints, annals, old manuscripts, plans, drawing, …
The added value of a service performed on the client’s premises is the facilitated interaction between the scanning operator and the collections department employees. Marie Villajos sees many benefits to this on-site delivery formula: “Having a workshop close to our services grants us a great reactiveness and a beneficial interaction with Arkhênum either at the requests level for the treatment of very specific documents or during the phase of control which can be done as the project advances. »


Marseille city museums pool their needs to digitize their documents in a unique place, the Marseille Museum warehouse.

12 000

images are produced every year of any kind of documents: photographic prints, glass plates, drawings, prints, old manuscripts, annals…

Service des Musées de Marseille
Centre de la Vieille Charité – 13002 Marseille
Tel : +33 (0)4 91 14 58 80
Managing Director of Museums: Christine Poullain
Collections Service Manager: Annie Philippon

Digital images open up new perspectives

These digitization campaigns have been renewed for the third year in a row.
The intended use of these digital images, combined with metadata, are already numerous and with high added value: fragile documents are preserved, requests from researchers are easier to satisfy, the integration of images in catalogues and communication tools of the city made easy. For example, multimedia and mobile applications using images from campaigns are already available at the Museum of Mediterranean Archeology with the installation of interactive tiles around the Egyptian Collection.
Others projects are already planned for the next few years.

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