The New York Time’s Joshua Barone:
All images of public-domain artworks in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection — about 375,000 — are now free for anyone to use however they may please.
The museum announced on Tuesday that it had changed its open access policy to allow free, unrestricted use of any images of artworks in the public domain, using the license designation Creative Commons Zero, known as CC0.
For example, the image with this article, El Greco’s “The Vision of Saint John” (1609-14), is free to download in high resolution from the Met’s website, no permission required.
“Increasing access to the collection has been a priority for over a decade,” Thomas P. Campbell, the museum’s director, said at a news conference. “Twenty years ago, as a scholar, we had to negotiate access even for catalog cards.”
Now, anyone can download images directly from the Met’s website. “They can be used however you want to use them,” said Loic Tallon, the Met’s chief digital officer.
The 375,000 images available represent “the main body of our collections,” Mr. Campbell said. An additional 65,000 artworks have been digitized but are not in the public domain. (The Met’s collection totals about 1.5 million works, but Mr. Campbell said the remaining art that will be digitized includes prints, engravings and ephemera.)
The Met is not the first museum to do this — other institutions to do so include the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam — but the scale and breadth of its offerings is rare for a privately held collection. (The National Gallery’s website, by comparison, states that 45,000 open access artworks are available, and the Rijksmuseum has an ever-growing collection of over 150,000 images.) The Museum of Modern Art also made thousands of exhibition images from its archive available online last year.
To “make everything as available as possible,” Mr. Tallon said, the Met has also joined forces with several partners — including Creative Commons, Wikimedia and Pinterest — to spread the museum’s reach online.