NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has made a whopping 400,000 high-resolution digital images of its collection available for free download. You can browse the collection here.
In making the announcement, Mr. 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 Metropolitan Museum’s initiative-called Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC)-provides access to images of art in its collection that the Museum believes to be in the public domain and free of other known restrictions; these images are now available for scholarly use in any media.
Update: Wendy Macnaughton on why the high-resolution images released by the Met are such a big deal for art students and art history fans.
For someone who went to art school being able to do this is a revelation. I used to go to the museum with my sketchpad and copy the old masters. I’d get as close as I could to understand the brush strokes, colors, lines. The guards knew who to watch out for and would bark suddenly when we stuck our faces over the imaginary line.
As class assignments we were required to copy hundreds — literally hundreds — of the masters drawings and paintings. for those we mostly worked from images in books — a picture the size of a wallet photo.
Which is one of the many reasons this new met resource is fucking phenomenal.
You can get so, so close — far closer than one could in real life.
Update: Today (Feb 7, 2017) the Met announced that they’re releasing 375,000 images under Creative Commons’ CC0 license, which “allows anyone to use, re-use, and remix a work without restriction”. Previously, those works were restricted to non-commercial use only.