Rules and restrictions when consulting archives


The individual archives which have been collected at the RKD vary a great deal in size and content. An artist’s archive might consist of: personal papers such as passports, certificates, correspondence, diaries and notebooks, work and project files, but also information connected with membership of societies, items that record participation in exhibitions, sales books, texts of lectures and presentations, sketches and preparatory studies, photos, videos, sound recordings, invitations and other printed ephemera. The RKD looks after roughly 900 archives. There is an overview of all archives in the collection in the RKDcollections database.

Consulting archives at the RKD

Archives can be consulted on request at the RKD in The Hague.

  • Archives must be requested a minimum of two working days in advance via
  • Archives from Special Collections must be requested a minimum of seven working days in advance via You can find out in the RKDcollections database if an archive is part of Special Collections.
  • Access limitations apply to some archives.


Before you can consult an archive at the RKD containing personal data you may be asked to complete this form. General Data Protection Regulation (abbreviated to AVG in Dutch) and the Dutch GDPR Implementation Act (UAVG) mean that there are limitations to the use of individual personal data for academic or historical research or statistical purposes. You must complete and sign the form before access to the requested archive will be granted.

Rules for consulting archives

  • For the consultation of archives, please use the round tables in front of the study room desk.
  • Only pencils may be used for note taking.
  • Archival material must be handled with the utmost care, making sure you follow all guidance given.
  • Archival material will be brought to you on a trolley. Please do not place more than one archive box on the table at a time.
  • We ask you to keep the material in the correct order. If this is not clear please ask for help from a colleague at the study room desk. 
  • Once you have finished consulting an archive, please alert staff and bring the archival material back to the study room desk.
  • When taking back archival material from you, the RKD has the right to check your personal work material.
  • The security coordinator will be notified if something seems to be missing from an archive that has been consulted. The RKD may check CCTV footage.

Photography of archival objects

  • Public archives may be photographed only for the purpose of personal research.
  • Photographs must not be shared or published, either on paper or digitally.
  • You may not photograph the entire contents of an archive.
  • Professional photographic equipment is not permitted.
  • Flash photography is prohibited.
  • Permission must be sought in advance for archives that are partly, or only to a limited extent public (requests should go in advance to 

Restrictions on viewing archival documents

Archives held by the RKD are in principle available for public consultation. This means that anyone may consult them, either by looking at the original in the RKD study room, or digitally. Parts of the archive collection, however, are not yet accessible and so cannot be requested in the normal way in our study room.

There are 5 possible reasons why archives may not be available for consultation:

The documents are not in the public domain

In some cases contractual or legal restrictions to public access apply to private archives which have been donated or entrusted (on loan) to the RKD by societies, foundations, companies, families or individuals. The staff member at the information desk can tell you when the archives will be released. They should also be able to tell you if an exception to the rules can be made in your case.

Reproductions of the documents exist

If documents have been reproduced (on microfiche or digitised), the original will not be made available for inspection. An exception will only be made if the reproduction is illegible. For information about this please ask a staff member in the study room.

Work is being done on the archive

If an archive is being inventoried, conserved, restored or digitised, then it may be unavailable temporarily. Archives and collections which have not been inventoried are difficult to access and may only be consulted by appointment and if certain conditions apply.

The archive is temporarily unavailable because it is on loan

The RKD regularly receives requests from museums who wish to borrow archival documents for temporary exhibitions.

The condition of the material does not allow consultation

Documents may have deteriorated to such an extent that consultation is not possible until conservation work has been done. This may be the case for instance with archives that have been damaged by fire or severe ink corrosion.

In order to consult an archival document from a private archive with an embargo, you need permission from the donor or from the depositor or person authorised by them. You can make a request via this contact form to the head of the RKD’s Collections Department, who will contact the relevant party. Once you have received permission, you can come and see the restricted documents in the study room.

If you have permission from a lender or donor to consult archival documents, you must not show them to any third party. The information obtained from the material must only be used for your own research. If you intend to use the material for another purpose, such as publication or any other form of circulation, then it is your responsibility to comply with the law of copyright. The RKD will not act as intermediary in matters of copyright belonging to third parties. van derden.


When accessing material from RKD collections, users should not infer any legal liability on the part of the Institute. Users must make themselves aware of all relevant legislation concerning matters of copyright, right to privacy, libel and the like, and users indemnify the RKD against all judicial consequences of their use of the material.