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.
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.