Tag Archives: images

Fine Art: Finding Images

Recently several major art museums have announced that they are making their digital collections available for download and non-commercial use.  This opening up of collections gives students and anyone interested in fine art an opportunity to work with and use these images in their own projects.  The following museums and galleries have collections that have recently announced that their images in their collections are available for download .

Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

Portrait of George Moore

George Moore (1852-1933) by Edouard Manet H.O. Havermeyer Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

On May 16, 2014 the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that 400,000 high resolution digital images of public domain works could be downloaded from the Museum’s website for non-commercial use.  You do not need to seek permission for use of these images nor is there an associated fee.  This initiative is called Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC) and works covered by this initiative are identified by the acronym OASC. More information is available on the Met’s  Frequently Asked Questions page.

Search the Met’s Collection.

National Gallery of Art, Washington

Key West, Hauling Anchor, 1903 by Winslow Homer, National Gallery of Art.

Key West, Hauling Anchor, 1903 by Winslow Homer, National Gallery of Art.

NGA Images is a repository of digital images from the collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington.  More than 37,000 open access digital images are available free of charge for download and use.  Images are available at different resolutions for use on screen or in print publications.  Search NGA Images on the National Gallery’s website.

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Detail from The Little Street, Johannes Vermeer, RIjksmuseum

Detail from The Little Street, Johannes Vermeer, RIjksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam makes over 125,000 images from the collection available, free of charge.   To use them you will need to create a free Rijkstudio account to get started.

The account lets you create your own galleries and download images for your own use.  The museum encourages you to create your own masterpieces from the images that you download and has examples of objects, images and videos created from its art works.



The Getty

Unknown Horse and Rider, about 550 B.C., Terracotta Object: H: 12.7 cm (5 in.) The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California

Unknown. Horse and Rider, about 550 B.C., Terracotta Object: H: 12.7 cm (5 in.)
DIgital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program


The Getty makes freely available all digital images (about 90,000) to which it holds the rights or that are in the public domain.  You can browse all Open Content images or use the search on the Getty Search Gateway and download images identified with a download link.  Images used should be credited as follows:  “Digital Image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program”

Finding More Images

These are just a few examples of places where you can find fine art images to use in your projects.  Check the Finding Images to Share post for more resources for finding images.


Finding Images to Share, Re-use and Mix


CC flickr photo by Olibac


CC BY-NC-ND flickr photo by Urban Woodswalker


CC BY-NC SA flickr photo by ramseymohsen

There are many places on the web where you can find images that have been licensed in such a way that you can use, share and/or modify them without requesting permission.  Most of these images are made available under Creative Commons licenses.  Ideally when you use an image licensed under Creative Commons you should attribute (in the way specified by the creator), indicate the license type and provide a link to the work.  If you want more details, this wikihow page goes into greater depth.

Here are a few ways that you can search for Creative Commons (CC) images on a few popular web sites.


To search Flickr for CC images, use the advanced search option.  Scroll down to the bottom of the page and select the type of Creative Commons images that you want to find.

Flickr Creative Commons SearchIf you want content you can modify or mash-up or use commercially, select the appropriate sub-options, otherwise just go with “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content”.  Any search you do from this point in your browser session will give you CC images.  You should see the following at the top of your search results:

Showing Creative Commons-licensed content

Google Images

To search Google for Creative Commons licensed images, you will need to use the Advanced Image Search page.  Scroll down to the bottom where you will see the following:


Click on the drop-down arrow and select the type of images you would like.  You have the following options:

  • not filtered by license
  • free to use or share
  • free to use or share, even commercially
  • free to use, share or modify
  • free to use, share or modify, even commercially

Wikipedia Media Commons

Wikipedia Media Commons is a database of 16,370,108 (as of today) freely usable media files to which anyone can contribute.  In addition to images it also contains sound and video files.  You can browse the Commons for featured photos, or search by keyword.  Once you have found an image that you like, click on the thumbnail or title of the image to get to the page that provides you with detailed information about how you can use the image.  Each image will have a Permission (using this file) section.  This will tell you re-use options.  Here are a couple of examples:

I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This work is in the public domain in the United States, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less.Allowing Others to Use your Images

In the spirit of openness you might want to allow others to use your images. There are many ways to do this.  Here are just a couple.

Wikipedia Media Commons

The Wikipedia Media Commons is looking for people to contribute images.  They are not just looking for photographs, they are also looking for people to contribute diagrams and to help with the upkeep of the site. More information can be found on the main Wikipedia Media Commons Page.


Dog Sled Race at Kortright

My photo recently licensed as Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

In Flickr you can set the license on your photos to allow re-use.  By default Flickr sets the most restrictive license on your photos (all rights reserved), but you can change this default in your settings, in the privacy and permissions tab, under defaults for new uploads.  If you change this default you need to be sure that everything you upload is your work.

If you prefer, you can change permissions on individual photos in Flickr.  When viewing the image, you will see an owner settings box as follows:

Flickr Owner Settings

Click on the edit beside All Rights Reserved to change the permissions on the photo.

Other Places to Find Images

There are lots of other resources that you can find re-usable media files.  Let me know if you have a favourite.