Greek (Hellenistic), Nike of Samothrace, ca. 190 BCE, Musée du Louvre, Paris
The Louvre – maybe the most famous museum in the world — has launched a new website. Its central feature is a collections database that gives you access to nearly half a million works of art (they claim that the museum’s entire collection is now online, although this is probably not even all of it). This is a major upgrade from the Louvre’s old site, which included only a limited selection of works, often with images too small to be very useful.
For many of the Louvre’s treasures, a variety of images are now available (including details and alternate views), which is an especially welcome feature. You can download these images at a maximum of 1500 pixels, which is a reasonable size for using in a PowerPoint presentation, but not large enough for publication. Keep in mind that the Louvre is still not an open-access institution, so while you may use these images for personal study or teaching, you are not allowed to publish or otherwise distribute them. And although much of the museum’s website is available in English, most of the information in the collections database is only in French.
Edmonia Lewis, The Death of Cleopatra, 1876, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC (artwork and digital image both in the public domain)
Smithsonian Open Access has arrived! Just this week the Smithsonian Institution released about 2.8 million images of objects in its collections with a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) designation, so you can now download them for free and use them however you want.
Ma Lin, Scholar Reclining and Watching Rising Clouds, 1225-1275, Cleveland Museum of Art (artwork and digital image both in the public domain)
Another major American museum has joined the growing list of institutions to adopt an Open Access policy. The Cleveland Museum of Art announced this week that it is releasing about 30,000 images of works in its collection into the public domain, effective immediately. These images have been given a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) designation, which means you can use them for anything, without a fee or permission.
Georges Seurat, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, 1884-86, Art Institute of Chicago (artwork and digital image both in the public domain)
Good news! The Art Institute of Chicago has launched both a new website and a new Open Access policy for more than 44,000 of the images you’ll find on it. Like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Walters Art Museum before it, the AIC has released its images into the public domain under a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, which is the least restrictive kind you can use. This means that you are free to download and reuse these images for any purpose–even a commercial one–without having to pay a fee or seek any additional permission. As always, this only applies to the museum’s images of artworks which are themselves in the public domain, so most modern and contemporary art (including Picasso’s Old Guitarist and Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks) is excluded from the policy.
Henri Rousseau, Woman Walking in an Exotic Forest, 1905, Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia (Photo: Courtesy of the Barnes Foundation, Merion and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
The Barnes Foundation has joined a growing list of museums and other institutions that are designating their public domain images as Open Access. As always, this applies only to artworks not still protected by copyright, so most 20th-century artists (most notably Matisse, in the case of the Barnes) are excluded. But images of works by many earlier artists (such as Renoir and Cézanne) in the Barnes’ collection are now free for unrestricted use.
Jean-Léon Gérôme, Bashi-Bazouk, 1868-1869, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Image: CC0)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has dramatically expanded its commitment to Open Access. On Facebook Live this morning, Director and CEO Thomas P. Campbell announced that the Met would make 375,000 images of public domain artworks in its collection freely available for unrestricted use through its new Open Access Policy. This effectively supplants the Met’s earlier Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC) and Images for Academic Publishing (IAP) programs, which limited their scope to academic and non-commercial uses. The Met’s images may now be used freely for any purposes, including commercial ones. As always in questions of copyright, this policy applies only to images of artworks which are themselves in the public domain, so most modern and contemporary art is excluded.
Images that are covered by the Open Access Policy are marked on the Met’s website with a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) symbol, meaning that the Museum has waived copyright and dedicated these images to the public domain. Artstor, the Wikimedia Foundation, and Creative Commons–all of which partnered with the Met on this initiative–will also be making these images available on their own sites.
With this new policy, the Met becomes only the second American institution (after the Walters Art Museum) to adopt the generous CC0 designation for its images. It is by far the largest art museum yet to have embraced such a sweeping vision of open access.
Modigliani exhibition, MoMA, April 10-June 10, 1951
The Museum of Modern Art has launched an online resource documenting its complete exhibition history. Here you can find installation views, catalogues, checklists, and press releases for over 3500 exhibitions at MoMA from 1929 to the present. Needless to say, MoMA has played a central role in the history of modern and contemporary art, so this comprehensive resource should prove extremely valuable to scholars and students. You can read more in MoMA’s press release and an article in The New York Times.
Freake-Gibbs Painter, Elizabeth Clarke Freake (Mrs. John Freake) and Baby Mary (detail), ca. 1671, Worcester Art Museum
As we enter the new year, the Artstor Digital Library now has more than two million images. To see all the collections that were added or expanded in 2015, and for a preview of what’s coming up in 2016, check out Artstor’s year-end summary.
Two new collections of note were added over the holidays: