Wikimedia Commons, part of the Wikimedia Foundation (which also oversees Wikipedia), is an online repository of free-access images and other media files. All such images donated to Wikimedia by an institution like the Walters are considered to be in the public domain, and are intended for free and unrestricted use for any purpose.
Johannes Vermeer, Girl with the Red Hat, ca. 1665-1666 (photo: Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington)
BIG NEWS! The National Gallery of Art in Washington has just launched the NGA Images website. There you can download any of their images of works in the public domain (which means almost all of their pre-1900 art). You can read the full press release here.
The images that you can download are 1200 pixels on their long dimension, which is perfect for use in Powerpoint or OIV (see an example here). In addition, if you register on the site, you also get access to 2000-pixel and 3000-pixel images, which are suitable for scholarly publications. And it’s all free of charge!
But what makes this site truly remarkable is that you’re also free to use any of the images you download for any purpose you want, without even having to seek the museum’s permission. It’s all part of the National Gallery of Art’s Open Access policy. This follows the recent news that Yale University and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art would similarly open their image collections for unrestricted public use. The stature of the National Gallery of Art’s collection makes this an even bigger announcement . . . and another important milestone on the road towards greater public access to online image collections.
Poster for the WPA's Federal Art Project, 1936 (photo from the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution)
The Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution has donated nearly 300 Works Progress Administration (WPA) photographs from the 1930s to Wikimedia Commons, the image collection affiliated with Wikipedia. These include portraits of artists like Charles Alston and Arshile Gorky, and photos showing artists at work on public murals and other Great Depression-era projects. You can view the complete collection here.
As works created explicitly for the Federal Government, most WPA works are not copyrightable and have therefore always been in the public domain. That means you can legally download and use these high-resolution images however you want, without having to seek permission.
Read more about this Smithsonian-Wikimedia collaboration here.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has recently redesigned its website. You can read an announcement here from the Met’s director, Thomas Campbell.
One feature which sets the new site apart from its predecessor is the ability to download large images of works from the Met’s permanent collection. The actual image sizes vary, but most are large enough to use in a Powerpoint presentation, and many of them are in fact quite large, so you can zoom in and make details if you need to. Many of the Met’s images are already available through ARTstor, but the new site provides another way to access this content.
The Met’s Terms and Conditions are also more generous than most. They do not permit unrestricted use of the images on their new site, as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Yale Center for British Art both explicitly do. However, the Met does permit you to use their images on a personal website, provided that the website is not-for-profit and non-commercial, that you do not alter the images in any way, and that you provide all accompanying caption information.
The Frick Art Reference Library in New York has just announced the online launch of the Frick Digital Image Archive. Drawing from the Frick’s vast photoarchive, this inaugural release includes 15,000 images documenting many lesser-known works of art that were in American private collections or on the New York art market between 1922 and 1967.