The Metropolitan Museum of Art Makes 140,000+ Artistic Images from Its Collections Available on

As an Open Cul­ture read­er, you might already know the Inter­net Archive, often sim­ply called “,” as an ever expand­ing trove of won­ders, freely offer­ing every­thing from polit­i­cal TV ads to vin­tage cook­books to Grate­ful Dead con­cert record­ings to the his­to­ry of the inter­net itself. You might also know the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art as not just a build­ing on Fifth Avenue, but a lead­ing dig­i­tal cul­tur­al insti­tu­tion, one will­ing and able to make hun­dreds of art books avail­able to down­load and hun­dreds of thou­sands of fine-art images usable and remix­able under a Cre­ative Com­mons license.

Now, the Inter­net Archive and the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art have teamed up to bring you a col­lec­tion of over 140,000 art images gath­ered by the lat­ter and orga­nized and host­ed by the for­mer.

Most every dig­i­tal vault in the Inter­net Archive offers a cul­tur­al and his­tor­i­cal jour­ney with­in, but the col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art offers an espe­cial­ly deep one, rang­ing his­tor­i­cal­ly from ear­ly 19th-cen­tu­ry India (The Plea­sures of the Hunt at the top of the post) to mid­cen­tu­ry New York (the pho­to of the mighty loco­mo­tive before the entrance to the 1939 World’s Fair above) and, in either direc­tion, well beyond.

Cul­tur­al­ly speak­ing, you can also find in the Met’s col­lec­tion in the Inter­net Archive every­thing from from Japan­ese inter­pre­ta­tions of French pho­tog­ra­phy (the wood­block print French Pho­tog­ra­ph­er above) to the Bel­gian inter­pre­ta­tion of Anglo-Amer­i­can cin­e­ma (the poster design for Char­lie Chap­lin’s Play Day below). You can dial in on your zone of inter­est by using the “Top­ics & Sub­jects,” whose hun­dreds of fil­ter­able options include, to name just a few, such cat­e­gories as Asia, woodfrag­mentsLon­don, folios, and under­wear.

The col­lec­tion also con­tains works of the mas­ters, such as Vin­cent van Gogh’s 1887 Self-Por­trait with Straw Hat (as well as its obverse, 1885’s The Pota­to Peel­er), and some of the world’s great vis­tas, includ­ing Francesco Guardi’s 1765 ren­der­ing of Venice from the Baci­no di San Mar­co. If you’d like to see what in the col­lec­tion has drawn the atten­tion of most of its browsers so far, sort it by view count: those at work should beware that nudes and oth­er erot­i­cal­ly charged art­works pre­dictably dom­i­nate the rank­ings, but they do it along­side Naru­to Whirlpool, the Philoso­pher’s Stone, and Albert Ein­stein. Human inter­est, like human cre­ativ­i­ty, always has a sur­prise or two in store.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art Makes 375,000 Images of Fine Art Avail­able Under a Cre­ative Com­mons License: Down­load, Use & Remix

Down­load 464 Free Art Books from The Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art

1.8 Mil­lion Free Works of Art from World-Class Muse­ums: A Meta List of Great Art Avail­able Online

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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