Art enthusiasts, rejoice: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the world’s preeminent cultural institutions, has released 400,000 digital images of its collection into the public domain. While it has always been possible to view images of art online, the difference is that these images are available to view in high resolution – letting you see the pieces as you might if you visited the museum in New York City, in person. The move follows in the footsteps of other museums, such as the Getty.
Called the Open Access for Scholarly Content, the Met’s Director and CEO Thomas P. Campbell said, “Through this new, open-access policy, we join a growing number of museums that provide free access to images of art in the public domain. I am delighted that digital technology can open the doors to this trove of images from our encyclopedic collection.”
The images are free to use if it falls under the Met’s description of scholarly content, which means, as it suggests, for use in education and research purposes. Of course, you can also view it for personal enjoyment (perhaps even print out these images as wall art at home, although the Met would probably rather you buy a print from them). Anything that’s for commercial gain or not for education is a no-no. (Exact details can be found in this FAQ.)
Not everything in the Met’s collection is available for download, as the museum owns far more than the 400,000 pieces. As you browse the collection online, you can download a high-res version if there’s an “OASC” logo shown. What’s fantastic is that many of these downloadable images are actually not on view at the museum, so it’s a way to see the Met’s extensive collection that’s housed in storage. Downloadable images include art and photos by Alfred Stieglitz, Édouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, and Georges Seurat. Click here to browse the collection.
Numerous museums have put parts of their collections online, making them easy to explore with the click of a mouse. To help you explore them, we’ve compiled the best online tours and collections of some of the most famous museums in the world right here. Enjoy!