The Netherlands Institute for the Near East

Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten  -  Institut néerlandais du Proche-Orient

Frank Scholten legacy

The Scholten Photographic Collection comprises ca. 22,000 original photographs that Frank Scholten took on his travels through the Middle East in 1920-1923. The images have been digitised and are available in open access.

Photo 227 from La Palestine illustrée, vol. 1: "His fairest festal garments."

NINO holds the legacy of Frank Scholten (1881-1942), author of the two volume publication La Palestine illustrée (1929, subsequent editions in English, German, and Dutch). The volumes, “including references to passages illustrated in the Bible, the Talmud and the Koran”, were richly illustrated with photographs made by Scholten.

The Scholten Collection consists mainly of the many photographs taken by Scholten, an avid amateur photographer, on his travels in Europe and the Middle East. From his large number of photos from the Levant he selected images for his publication. He did not live to complete his plan to produce further volumes of La Palestine illustrée, and the majority of his photos were never published. A few highlights from the Scholten photographic collection are presented here.

Mapping the Mandate: Frank Scholten in the ‘Holy Lands’

All printed photographs and negatives in the Frank Scholten Collection have been digitised, funded by the Frank Scholten Fund. The digital images are available in Leiden University Libraries Digital Collections to view and download.

The digitisation project (2021-2022) has been carried out in cooperation with our partners: 

The project “Mapping the Mandate” is building a user-friendly interface that geo-locates all photographs in the collection. Project members:

Temporary exhibitions

Archeologie en toerisme in het Heilige Land (Leiden, 2020)

In 2020 the National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden, exhibited eight photographs from the Scholten Collection in large format, as well as a short documentary (9:31 mins.) on Scholten’s life and work in British Mandate Palestine. The small exhibition was titled Archeologie en toerisme in het Heilige Land and was organised in cooperation with stichting Zenobia.

View the documentary here:

Frank Scholten Photographing Palestine from Sary Zananiri on Vimeo.

Arab Orthodox Christians, Nationalism and the ‘Holy Land’ (Paris, 2022; Groningen, 2023)

This exhibition of a selection of photos from the Scholten Collection was organised by Karène Sanchez Summerer and Sary Zananiri. It is on view fom January to May 2023 at Groningen University Library, and online.

The exhibition was previously shown at INALCO, Paris, from 20 June until 7 July 2022.

Scholten legacy

In addition to his photographic materials, Scholten legated all related documentation he assembled to NINO. This included his books, which were incorporated into the NINO library. Upon his death the Frank Scholten Foundation was established to advance research into Palestinian and Syrian antiquities. The Fund is now depleted, having made Scholten’s magnum opus possible: the final publication of his photographs in open access.