Welcome to the Digital Archive of the Hidden Galleries Project 

This digital collection presents visual and textual materials relating to the creative practices and material culture of the religious underground within the archives of the secret police in Central and Eastern Europe. The materials presented here, that in most cases have not been preserved elsewhere, relate to the religious lives of ordinary members of minority communities under repressive authoritarian and totalitarian regimes in the twentieth century. This collection is indicative rather than comprehensive, the examples selected for the collection are designed to demonstrate the kinds of materials produced by and about the religious underground. It is a tool to enable researchers to locate files that contain confiscated religious materials and visual images of religious groups created by the secret police that are still difficult to access and find. This collection features confiscated photographs, surveillance photographs, brochures, icons, drawings, letters hymns and diaries.

Featured Items

Using the Hidden Galleries digital collection:

Who is the digital collection for? This collection has a regional scope and is designed to greater enable cross-cultural and transnational research. It is designed to be used by researchers, religious communities and the general public.

What is searchable? All entries are searchable by key word in English as well as the relevant local language or languages. You can search by religious community, country, location or security agency using the search function. The collection is organised by item and item set.  Item sets group materials together thematically in order to facilitate comparative research. 

What information do entries contain? The entries indicate the extent and nature of the material to be found in a given archive folder and offer some key historical context. They provide a sample of the material and visual aspects of religion in a given file in the form of digital images. The quality of the images is highly variable, which is due to the different reproduction possibilities available at the various archives.

How to use the collection? The entries give a full archival reference for materials and provide links to the relevant archive webpages (where available) or the contact details of the archive. In order to access the full materials, researchers will need to approach the relevant archival institution. When referencing the written materials or the images in this digital collection please use the Bibliographical citations at the end of each entry. As of April 2019, the archive contains materials from the following institutions: 

Copyright. The images presented here are not for the purpose of reproduction in published works, the copyright resides with the relevant archival institutions.

Data protection and privacy. The entries are in compliance with the relevant state regulations governing the archives and the ethical standards required by  University College Cork. The personal details of living individuals featured in the files are not given in the database unless they have given specific approval or they are publicly known leaders or personalities. In some cases, photographs of individuals have been anonymised to protect their identity.

If you have any queries regarding the material or want to contribute to the Hidden Galleries digital collection please email: