Old archival photographic images of Malta & Gozo are highly appreciated and sought after by collectors and the general public, but the conservation and preservation of negatives and prints by the public and private collection owners, unfortunately, has not kept up with the pace of this genuine and all-encompassing interest.
Photographic negatives from the start of photography in the 1840s to 2000, with the advent of digital overshadowing the old film negatives, remain a vital and irreplaceable component of the cultural heritage of the Maltese Islands. They need to be preserved for posterity and research, in the face of already ongoing destruction and disposal of under-appreciated photographic negatives and equipment.
Thus, the Malta Image Preservation Archive (MIPA) was founded in 2021 to fulfil this need, with the following aims:
- Physically conserve, restore and preserve all photographic collections and photographic equipment pertaining to Malta & Gozo in a safe controlled environment to avoid any further damage by humidity, temperature, light exposure and pests.
- Digitize all photographic collections to the strictest cultural heritage preservation standards. MIPA is the only FADGI , METAMORFOZE  and ISO 19264  compliant cultural heritage digitization hub in Malta, using the most sophisticated and state of the art digitization equipment available, on a par with professional photographic cultural heritage preservation institutions and museums worldwide.
- Ensure access of all digitized material in an online catalogue, so that the photographic material is publicly searchable and available for research purposes, both by collection and keywords.
- Records of contracts for image donations will be maintained in order to credit donors and collaborators whenever images are used.
Cultural heritage imaging is rooted in the idea of conserving & preserving the past for the future. The need for the digitization of historic photographic collections in museums & private entities is rapidly growing, with an increasing focus on public access, research and preservation of information for the future. Institutions with valuable collections often have a dedicated photographic studio for creating photographs of sensitive material, or for producing paper copies for researchers and scholars, protecting the original objects from wear and damage through repeated handling or exposure to elements. Preserving the past for the future is often a race against time, as much of the material has a limited lifespan before it is gone forever; solutions that enable rapid capture are not only necessary but often crucial due to the ongoing deterioration of originals.
The scope of cultural heritage digitization is to create a Preservation Digital Object (PDO), which can, for all intents and purposes, be used instead of the actual object needing to be handled. This necessitates that whenever a photographic negative or print is imaged, it must be reproduced to highly exacting and the strictest preservation grade standards.
All photographic collections are unique and diverse. In order to address this diverse nature, MIPA invested in developing, implementing and delivering specialized and tailored solutions, designed to produce the best output quality, while ensuring material safety and efficient workflow.
MIPA remains the only institution in Malta, governmental or otherwise, to be in full compliance with the exacting standards of cultural heritage digitization and preservation, and this is the only institution fully capable of preserving these important materials. We use only the best photographic digitization equipment in the market and the only available in Malta at this level.
Transparent Film and Glass Plate Negatives
This type of collection includes vintage glass plate negatives, medium and large format negatives, lantern slides, transparencies, including 35 mm mounted slides and all other transmissive material. We cater for every size of transparency, slide or glass plate, from 35 mm strips and mounted slides, through 120 mm, medium and large format glass plate negatives up to 25 by 32 cm glass plate negatives from the 1840s onwards.
This type of collection includes vintage prints both in black & white and colour, as well as all other reflective material. We cater for the accurate highest resolution digitization of every size of print.
The following institutions have already entrusted MIPA with planning, implementing and curating the digitization needs of their archives through various collaborative agreements:
- The Richard Ellis Archive
- The National Archives of Malta
- The Richard England Archive
- Midsea Books
- The Gerald Formosa Archive
- The David Wrightson collection
- The Antonio Said collection
- The Beato & Robertson collection within the Gennadius Library, Athens
 METAMORFOZE is the Netherlands’ national programme for the preservation of paper heritage. Started in 1997, the programme is situated in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (National Library of the Netherlands).
 ISO/TS 19264-1:2017 Photography — Archiving systems — Image quality analysis