The Rheinisches Bildarchiv (RBA) of the City of Cologne is one of the largest archives of photographs of art and culture in Germany with holdings of around 5.5 million photographs. Its offerings are available to the public on the Internet, in its own reading room, and through a service similar to that of a photo agency. In 2021, along with the city’s Historisches Archiv, it moved into a new building with the latest technology that offers optimal conditions for public outreach.
This report provides an introduction to the archive’s holdings and their particular needs, outlines the planning phases of the new building, describes the technology in its laboratories and stacks, and finally gives an insight into the individual phases of the move and their particular challenges. The report concludes with an account of an artistic project to accompany and reflect on the new building.