Met Museum Makes 375,000 Images Freely Available Online

Rembrandt via The Met Museum // CC0 1.0
Rembrandt via The Met Museum // CC0 1.0 / Rembrandt via The Met Museum // CC0 1.0

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has made around 375,000 images of public-domain artworks from its collections freely available online, The New York Times reports. Members of the public can download, edit, and distribute high-resolution photos from the Met’s website, with no copyright restrictions whatsoever.

The initiative—a part of the Met’s new open access policyincludes partnerships with Creative Commons, Wikimedia, Artstor, Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), Art Resource, and Pinterest in order to improve access to the museum's images. For example, web users can now find images, save, tag, or "pin” images of artworks on Creative Commons, as Hyperallergic reports. The Met has also named a new “Wikipedian in Residence,” Richard Knipel, who’s responsible for uploading pictures into Wikimedia Commons, documenting their metadata, and creating new articles on various artworks or topics.

The images feature 200,000 artworks, including famous paintings like Emanuel Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware and El Greco’s The Vision of Saint John. They comprise a large portion of the Met’s collections, although many other of the institution's public domain works—think engravings, posters, and prints—have yet to be digitized. (Another 65,000 Met artworks have been digitized, but they don’t fall under public domain.)

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“Our comprehensive and diverse museum collection spans 5000 years of world culture,” Met director Thomas P. Campbell said in a statement quoted by Artnet. “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.”

As Hyperallergic points out, the Met’s website has contained hundreds of thousands of publicly accessible images since 2014, but visitors were only able to download them for free if they were intended for non-commercial or scholarly use. Now, all of those images have CC0 1.0 or Creative Commons Zero licenses. You can browse the newly available works by going to the Met's Collection page and selecting the "Public Domain Artworks" filter on the left.

Digitized images of the Met's collections will be rolled out gradually, AFP Relax News reports.

[h/t The New York Times]