Museums News

Metropolitan Museum of Art anounces free image use

After the Yale University Art Gallery, Getty Museum and Rijksmuseum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is now also offering high-resolution pictures of objects in their collection free of charge. Cheers for the MET! I hope Paris’ quai Branly & Tervuren’s MRAC are taking note.

Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, announced on May 16 that more than 400,000 high-resolution digital images of public domain works in the Museum’s world-renowned collection may be downloaded directly from the Museum’s website for non-commercial use—including in scholarly publications in any media—without permission from the Museum and without a fee. The number of available images will increase as new digital files are added on a regular basis.

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. Works that are covered by the new policy are identified on the Museum’s website with the acronym OASC. (Certain works are not available through the initiative 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 Metropolitan Museum; restrictions by the artist, donor, or lender; or lack of a digital image of suitable quality.)

OASC was developed as a resource for students, educators, researchers, curators, academic publishers, non-commercial documentary filmmakers, and others involved in scholarly or cultural work. Prior to the establishment of OASC, the Metropolitan Museum provided images upon request, for a fee, and authorization was subject to terms and conditions.

More info on the Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC) can be found here. Available objects now have a small OASC marking underneath the image on its online collection page, as well as a download arrow. Unfortunately, with the exception of all objects of the old Benin Kingdom, not a single African object features this marking – at least for now.