Retrat d'Enric Granados 05.2207

BCN Open Challenge: the Museum’s Historical Archive now available to all

The BCN Open Challenge project is an initiative of the Institut de Cultura de Barcelona to digitise and publish online archive material from the city’s museums and archives. Its aim is to identify the most relevant material and collections from the institutions involved, digitise them and make them available online. The Museu de la Música participated with the description and digitisation of over 5,000 documents (more than 13,000 pages) from the Isaac Albéniz, Enric Granados, Joaquim Malats, Emili Pujol and Miquel Llobet collections housed in the Museum’s Historical Archive.

This Historical Archive houses documents relating to the Catalan musical culture and its leading figures. They come mostly from private (individual or family) collections, although some of them come from institutions and agencies involved in musical activity in Barcelona since the 19 th century. The collections include sheet music (printed and handwritten), photographs, monographs, correspondence, press books and cuttings, private papers, administrative documents, etc. The Archive, located in the Museum’s Espai de Documentació i Recerca, is intended to preserve, disseminate and investigate this musical heritage, essential to the study of music in Catalonia in the 19 th and 20 th centuries.

The Historical Archive receives inquiries from researchers, performers, students and the general public from all over the world. The Open Challenge project allowed us to make all these documents available, following archival standards, while contributing to their preservation: digitised documents make it unnecessary to consult the physical documents themselves thus reducing the impact of consultation.

The first step was to select the documents which had to be digitised. An important consideration was their situation regarding copyright: a document must be in the public domain for it to be published online. This is why we digitised the entire Isaac Albéniz, Enric Granados and Joaquim Malats collections, which are in the public domain, and a selection of documents from the Emili Pujol and Miquel Llobet collections which have already entered it.

Detall  de Lavapiés, d'Isaac Albéniz, núm. de registre 02.1737, Fons Joaquim Malats

The project was carried out in four stages:

- Description: an Excel spreadsheet was created to store all the information about the documents, following the standards defined by the Documentary Support Service of the ICUB. The description included cataloguing data with the collection history and details.
- Digitisation: July 2015 and May 2016.
- Migration of digitised images: all images were migrated into ClipFiles, the digital multimedia repository of the city museums.
- Publication: the tool selected to publish the collection online is AtoM – Access to Memory. It is a web-based, open source application for standards-based archival description. AtoM displays the description with the corresponding digital image located in ClipFiles through a handler.

So far, the Isaac Albéniz, Joaquim Malats and Emili Pujol collections have been published. They can be accessed online at

(Translated by Andrew Langdon-Davies and Stephen B. Clayton)