Met Museum Makes Trove of Images Available to Public

Thomas P. Campbell, director of the Met, announced yesterday that the museum will make images of public-domain artworks in its collection available for free and unrestricted use. This is a real boon to bloggers, journalists, artists, and Internet users in general.

Called Open Access, this policy uses the Creative Commons Zero designation and makes over 375,000 images available for both scholarly and commercial use. The Museum also has its first Wikimedian-in-Residence, Richard Knipel, who will bring images of public-domain artworks into Wikimedia Commons, which will make it easier to locate them in Internet searches. Additionally, the Met is collaborating with Pinterest to display images on its platform.

In making the announcement, Campbell said: “Our comprehensive and diverse museum collection spans 5,000 years of world culture and our core mission is to be open and accessible for all who wish to study and enjoy the works of art in our care. Increasing access to the Museum’s collection and scholarship serves the interests and needs of our 21st-century audiences by offering new resources for creativity, knowledge, and ideas. We thank Creative Commons, an international leader in open access and copyright, for being a partner in this effort.”

There are some limitations. While all images of works the Museum believes to be in the public domain are included in this initiative, certain works are not available for one or more of the following reasons: the work is still under copyright, or the copyright status is unclear; privacy or publicity issues; the work is owned by a person or an institution other than The Met; restrictions by the artist, donor, or lender; or lack of a digital image of suitable quality.