Corbis

Topics: Paper to Digital | Outsourcing Records Management

The Bettmann Archive contains some of the world’s most recognizable photographic images – from Marilyn Monroe to Rosa Parks to a work crew perched on a girder above New York City. When Corbis Images acquired the Bettmann Archive in 1995, the challenge was to provide access for Corbis’ client base to this historic trove of images. Working with Iron Mountain, Corbis was able to manage the digitizing and archiving efforts for this massive collection and provide worldwide access to this rich legacy of historically significant visual images.

Video Transcription

In 1933, Otto Bettmann, an independent art curator fled Nazi Germany with 2 trunks of original photographs. Over the ensuing decades, this collection, known as the Bettman Archive, expanded to include over 11 million images, including iconic photos of the Beatles, Ernest Hemingway, Franklin Roosevelt, and The Kennedys. It is widely considered the most comprehensive collection of historically and culturally important photography in the world. Acquired in 1995 By Corbis Corporation, it is now the crowned jewel of Corbis' collection of over 100 million images.

Corbis is a creative resource for advertising, marketing, and media professionals around the world. Corbis provides photographic images, illustrations, film footage. It also provides rights and clearance services. The Bettman Archive contains 11 million images. Prints, negatives, various format of photography. The overall storage in this vault is 20 million images. Corbis had a responsibility to protect this collection: images that the world knows. Image such as Rosa Parks seated in the front of the bus, Marilyn Monroe with her skirt blowing up, Einstein sticking out his tongue. Corbis acquired that collection in 1995 and we were challenged with preserving the collection and providing access to it.

Corbis realized that the Bettman Archive was already deteriorating and quickly consulted with Will Hound Imaging Research, an expert on film preservation. After scouring the globe for a secure location that could offer the geological and temperature stability required to protect the original images, Iron Mountain was selected to create a 20,000 sq. ft temperature controlled archive in its high security, underground facility to rest the aging of the original film. In Iron Mountain's secure, underground environment, where temperatures are stabilized at -20 degrees celsius, Corbis expects the Betton collection to remain preserved nearly unchanged for thousands of years.

The partnership that was created with Iron Mountain enables us to achieve that. Many of the images in this vault are not scanned, so Corbis staff locates the images and Iron Mountain provides imaging services and scans them. Iron Mountain has built digital studios within its facilities to provide image, audio, and film restoration services to client in the entertainment industry as well as to music labels, museums, and academic institutions. With state-of-the-art mastering suites, digital imaging specialist, film preservationists, and one of the largest collections of vintage media players in the world, Iron Mountain helps to digitize and restore content.


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