Read Free Digital Art Catalogues from 9 World-Class Museums, Thanks to the Pioneering Getty Foundation

OSCI image ipad

We’ve pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured the var­i­ous pio­neer­ing efforts of The Getty — from free­ing 4,600 high-res­o­lu­tion art images (and then 77,000 more) into the pub­lic domain, to dig­i­tal­ly releas­ing over 250 art books. Now they’ve put their minds to those rare, beau­ti­ful, and high­ly edi­fy­ing spec­i­mens known as art cat­a­logues. “Based on metic­u­lous research, these cat­a­logues make avail­able detailed infor­ma­tion about the indi­vid­ual works in a muse­um’s col­lec­tion, ensur­ing the con­tents a place in art his­to­ry,” announces their site. “Yet print­ed vol­umes are cost­ly to pro­duce and dif­fi­cult to update reg­u­lar­ly; their poten­tial con­tent often exceeds allot­ted space. One could say they are like thor­ough­bred hors­es con­fined to stock pens.” But now the Get­ty has offered a solu­tion in the form of the Online Schol­ar­ly Cat­a­logue Ini­tia­tive (OCSI), cre­at­ing an online plat­form for free cat­a­logues — and not just the Get­ty’s, but those of any art insti­tu­tion.

renoir catalogue


You can access the first set of art cat­a­logues released under the OSCI ini­tia­tive here. As you can see, where the Get­ty goes, oth­er insti­tu­tions fol­low: The Art Insti­tute of Chica­go has released cat­a­logues on the work of Mon­et and Renoir. The Smith­son­ian Insti­tu­tion’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sack­ler Gallery has a cat­a­logue on The World of the Japan­ese Illus­trat­ed Book, which sits nice­ly along­side LAC­MA’s cat­a­logue on South­east Asian Art. Oth­er titles include Dutch Paint­ings of the Sev­en­teenth Cen­tu­ry from the Nation­al Gallery of Art; The Rauschen­berg Research Project from SFMOMA; Dis­cov­er the Chi­nese Paint­ing & Cal­lig­ra­phy Col­lec­tion at the Seat­tle Art Muse­um; The Tates’s The Cam­den Town Group in Con­text; and the Liv­ing Col­lec­tions Cat­a­logue from the Walk­er Art Cen­ter.

japanese illustrated books

You can learn more about the project, its devel­op­ment, and its poten­tial in the short Get­ty video, “The Future of Dig­i­tal Pub­lish­ing in Muse­ums.” Do note that, while you can, of course, view this wealth of cat­a­logues on a com­put­er, you’ll want to use a tablet for the opti­mized expe­ri­ence. And the more the OCSI ini­tia­tive devel­ops, the rich­er a read­ing expe­ri­ence you’ll have on any device; it not only pro­vides users detailed art images, but also the options to “over­lay them with con­ser­va­tion doc­u­men­ta­tion, dis­cov­er schol­ar­ly essays in easy-to-read for­mats, take notes in the mar­gins that can be stored for lat­er use, and export cita­tions to their desk­tops.” And thus yet anoth­er unex­pect­ed ben­e­fit of the inter­net emerges: we are all art his­to­ri­ans now.


Relat­ed Con­tent:

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

The Get­ty Adds Anoth­er 77,000 Images to its Open Con­tent Archive

Down­load Over 250 Free Art Books From the Get­ty Muse­um

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 cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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  • Jose Pouso says:

    This is an embar­rass­ment of rich­es! Thank you so much for get­ting the word out.

  • Elliott johnson says:

    Please send some art and design cat­a­logs spe­cial­ly fine art .I had done betec first in art design , and because nation­al in audio visu­al design.i spe­cialise in wood crav­ing por­trait and graf­fi­ti but my art is still very unre­fined and need more train­ing love best wish­es Elliott my teacher was Chris gold­straw

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