Download 576 Free Art Books from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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You could pay $118 on Ama­zon for the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art’s cat­a­log The Art of Illu­mi­na­tion: The Lim­bourg Broth­ers and the Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry. Or you could pay $0 to down­load it at Met­Pub­li­ca­tions, the site offer­ing “five decades of Met Muse­um pub­li­ca­tions on art his­to­ry avail­able to read, down­load, and/or search for free.”

If that strikes you as an obvi­ous choice, pre­pare to spend some seri­ous time brows­ing Met­Pub­li­ca­tions’ col­lec­tion of free art books and cat­a­logs.

You may remem­ber that we fea­tured the site a few years ago, back when it offered 397 whole books free for the read­ing, includ­ing Amer­i­can Impres­sion­ism and Real­ism: The Paint­ing of Mod­ern Life, 1885–1915; Leonar­do da Vin­ci: Anatom­i­cal Draw­ings from the Roy­al Library; and Wis­dom Embod­ied: Chi­nese Bud­dhist and Daoist Sculp­ture in The Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of ArtBut the Met has kept adding to their dig­i­tal trove since then, and, as a result, you can now find there no few­er than 576 art cat­a­logs and oth­er books besides. Those sit along­side the 400,000 free art images the muse­um put online last year.

met museum free art books

So have a look at Met­Pub­li­ca­tions’ cur­rent col­lec­tion and you’ll find you now have unlim­it­ed access to such lush as well as artis­ti­cal­ly, cul­tur­al­ly, and his­tor­i­cal­ly var­ied vol­umes as African IvoriesChess: East and West, Past and PresentMod­ern Design in The Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art, 1890–1990; Vin­cent Van Gogh: The Draw­ings; French Art Deco; or even a guide to the muse­um itself (vin­tage 1972).

chess east and est

Since I haven’t yet turned to art col­lec­tion — I sup­pose you need mon­ey for that — these books don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly make me cov­et the vast sweep of art­works they depict and con­tex­tu­al­ize. But they do make me wish for some­thing even less prob­a­ble: a time machine so I could go back and see all these exhibits first­hand.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Down­load Over 250 Free Art Books From the Get­ty Muse­um

The Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art Puts 400,000 High-Res Images Online & Makes Them Free to Use

The Guggen­heim Puts 109 Free Mod­ern Art Books Online

Where to Find Free Art Images & Books from Great Muse­ums, and Free Books from Uni­ver­si­ty Press­es

800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kin­dle & Oth­er Devices

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture as well as the video series The City in Cin­e­ma 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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