The Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, Sweden’s premier art collection, has released over 3000 images of its works in Wikimedia Commons. It joins other institutions which have announced their own open access policies in recent years, including another major Scandinavian collection, the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen, and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, which likewise chose to release its images through Wikimedia Commons.
The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore–one of our Department’s CTPhD Program partners–was among the first museums to make images of many of the artworks in its collection freely available to the public way back in 2012. Ever since that time, you have been able to download high-resolution images of its works either on the museum’s own website or in Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons (CC BY-SA) license.
Now, the Walters has taken the unprecedented step of waiving copyright altogether and dedicating these images to the public domain (CC0). There are no longer any restrictions whatsoever on your use of these images. You don’t even have to say that they came from the Walters (although in general, crediting the source of an image is still considered a best practice whenever possible).
Note that this new policy does not apply to images of every artwork in the Walters’s collection. All of the images released into the public domain are of artworks that are themselves also in the public domain. If an artwork is copyrighted, the Walters does not have the authority to place images of it in the public domain. This means that most art made since about 1900 is still under copyright, so those images are not made available here. However, since the Walters focuses mainly on earlier periods, this restriction excludes a relatively small number of the works in its collection.
New images have recently been added to some existing collections in the Artstor Digital Library:
The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore has made more than 19,000 images of works in its collection, along with all of their associated information, freely available to the public through Wikimedia Commons.
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.
Since last year, the Walters’ newly redesigned website has also allowed visitors to download high-resolution images of its works.