Art and Images for
Student Websites and Projects
At the Vincent Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, there's a text printed on the wall of the second-floor landing. It explains Van Gogh's ambition as a painter; that Van Gogh viewed his work as a kind of "love letter" to humanity. He hoped to reflect the world's own glory, with love. An artistic impulse, but one not exclusive to artists. The aspiration is rarely rewarded, or even understood, by most people. But whenever it is found, in whatever form it takes, it is an act of genius.
Unsplash--high resolution, Creative Commons images
Rijks Museum. In late 2012, the museum began a bold experiment by not only making it possible to download high-quality files of its collection, but by actively encouraging people to do so.
The Rijks’ Linda Volkers explains: “By allowing people to use and remix our collection, our art gets new relevance in today’s world. People we call ‘culture snackers’ don’t necessarily go to museums, but they like beautiful things. When they see and enjoy our art online, they are connected to it even though they don’t visit in person. It pulls down barriers. You don’t have to know everything about this piece of art. If you look at it and have a nicer day and are inspired to do something with the art, it’s good for the people and for us.”
In 2017, The Metropolitan Museum of Art implemented a policy known as Open Access, which makes images of artworks that its curators believe to be in the public domain available for unrestricted use (in accordance with the Creative Commons Zero designation). To search the Met’s collection for free images, make sure the Open Access option is selected.
The New York Public Library has marked more than 180,000 items—illustrations, maps, photos, ephemera such as menus, manuscripts, and so much more—in its collection as copyright-free and put them online for our use. (It has also created a cool visualization tool that you can use to sort items by genre, century, and color.)
The largest art museum in the western United States, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, also has a very large collection of copyright-free images that it has made available online. Search its collection of art and objects from around the world, with the Show Public Domain Images Only option selected, to see nearly 25,000 publicly available images.
United States Library of Congress’s collection that its librarians have deemed free to use and reuse.
The United States National Archives makes almost 17,000 of its most interesting copyright-free images available (website)—photos produced by the federal government are frequently made available to the public for use in any context.