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.
This week is Open Access Week, an annual opportunity to highlight the benefits of sharing scholarly research and resources online.
Kevin Smith, director of the Office of Copyright and Scholarly Communications at Duke University Libraries, will speak in the Morris Library Reading Room at 4:00 pm on Wednesday, October 21. His lecture, “The Meaning of Publication in the Digital Age, or What Open Access Can Do for You,” is part of UD’s celebration of Open Access Week.
Caradosso, Pope Julius II [obverse] and View of Saint Peter’s [reverse], 1506 (photo: Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington)
Let’s face it: if you live around here, you’re probably not going to be doing a lot of driving this weekend. With all the pandemonium surrounding Pope Francis’s visit to Philadelphia, many of us are either hunkering down at home or getting out of town altogether.
What better time to think about all your favorite popes in art? Of course the first pope, Saint Peter, is a key figure. During the Middle Ages, there were a bunch of popes named Gregory and Innocent and whatnot. There was a Saint Francis (who was said to have miraculously appeared to Pope Nicholas V), but until 2013 there had never been a Pope Francis. For awhile, the Papal Court even moved from Rome to southern France, and sometimes there were simply too many popes at once. At the height of the Renaissance, Julius II commissioned Michelangelo’s ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s Stanze frescoes, and Bramante’s design for rebuilding Saint Peter’s Basilica. He also collected ancient sculptures like the Apollo Belvedere and Laocoön, which would inspire generations of artists. But not everybody was a fan of such papal indulgence, or indulgences for that matter. Martin Luther and other reformers soon challenged the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. When the Medici Pope Clement VII refused to annul the first marriage of Henry VIII, the king essentially declared himself the pope of England. The Vatican countered with a series of strong popes in the later 16th and 17th centuries. Innocent X was the patron of the Baroque sculptor Algardi, while Alexander VII preferred Bernini. But the temporal power of the popes began to wane in the 18th century, and by the death of the Pius IX in 1878, the Vatican complex was all that remained under their control.
Shared Shelf Commons is the free, open-access facet of Artstor, available to anyone worldwide, even without a subscription to Artstor. Shared Shelf subscribers like Cornell and UD have been publishing some of their collections to Shared Shelf Commons for several years now. Because of copyright restrictions, the Visual Resources Center’s images are not in Shared Shelf Commons, but many other UD collections are. These include, for instance, the UD Library’s own Franklin C. Daiber Botanical Collection, which was featured in a recent post in the Artstor Blog.
You will now find a list of “Shared Shelf Commons” collections at the center of the main Artstor search page, directly below the list of UD’s “Shared Shelf Institutional Collections” (which includes the VRC’s collection). Note that all of the UD collections listed here under Shared Shelf Commons also appear in the list of Institutional Collections. These particular collections (mostly from the UD Library) now essentially exist twice within the Artstor environment, which means that your search results will include duplicates of these images. It’s an unintended consequence of merging the two systems: the people at Artstor are aware of this little quirk, and will hopefully be fixing it in the near future.
The Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington are among the nation’s most important collections of Asian art, with a particular strength in the arts of China. In addition, they are home to works from ancient Egypt, the Islamic world, and the United States, including James McNeill Whistler’s famous Peacock Room at the Freer.
You can read the press release about Open F|S here.