The Getty Puts 4600 Art Images Into the Public Domain (and There’s More to Come)


Not long ago, I went over to the Get­ty to see the J. Paul Get­ty Trust’s Pres­i­dent and CEO James Cuno in live con­ver­sa­tion with Pico Iyer, one of his favorite writ­ers as well as one of mine. Cuno, him­self the author of books like Whose Cul­ture?: The Promise of Muse­ums and the Debate over Antiq­ui­ties and Muse­ums Mat­ter: In Praise of the Ency­clo­pe­dic Muse­um, impressed me not only with his choice of inter­locu­tors but with the open, for­ward-think­ing nature he revealed dur­ing the talk. On Mon­day, he demon­strat­ed it again by pub­lish­ing anoth­er piece of writ­ing, very brief but unde­ni­ably impor­tant: his announce­ment of the Get­ty’s Open Con­tent Pro­gram, which has just made avail­able over 4600 high-res­o­lu­tion images of the muse­um’s col­lec­tion freely avail­able in the pub­lic domain. You can down­load them, mod­i­fy them, dis­trib­ute them — do what you please with them.


“Why open con­tent? Why now?” Cuno writes. “The Get­ty was found­ed on the con­vic­tion that under­stand­ing art makes the world a bet­ter place, and shar­ing our dig­i­tal resources is the nat­ur­al exten­sion of that belief. This move is also an edu­ca­tion­al imper­a­tive. Artists, stu­dents, teach­ers, writ­ers, and count­less oth­ers rely on art­work images to learn, tell sto­ries, exchange ideas, and feed their own cre­ativ­i­ty.” If you enjoy engag­ing in any of these pur­suits — which, as an Open Cul­ture habitué‎, I assume you do — begin by brows­ing all the Open Con­tent Pro­gram’s cur­rent­ly avail­able images, or check for down­load links on indi­vid­ual Get­ty col­lec­tion pages. This post includes three images straight from the Get­ty: Rem­brandt’s The Abduc­tion of Europa, Walk­er Evans’ A Bench in the Bronx on Sun­day, and a hel­met of Chal­cid­i­an type cir­ca 350–300 B.C. Cuno promis­es many more images to come, and mate­r­i­al from oth­er sources like the Get­ty’s inter­na­tion­al field projects. He’s got my antic­i­pa­tion.


Relat­ed Con­tent:

40,000 Art­works from 250 Muse­ums, Now View­able for Free at the Redesigned Google Art Project

LA Coun­ty Muse­um Makes 20,000 Artis­tic Images Avail­able for Free Down­load

The Rijksmu­se­um Puts 125,000 Dutch Mas­ter­pieces Online, and Lets You Remix Its Art Rolls Out Huge Archive of Fine-Art Images and an Intel­li­gent Art Appre­ci­a­tion Guide

Free: The Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art and the Guggen­heim Offer 474 Free Art Books Online

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­lesA Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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