The Getty Makes Nearly 88,000 Art Images Free to Use However You Like

Since the J. Paul Get­ty Muse­um launched its Open Con­tent pro­gram back in 2013, we’ve been fea­tur­ing their efforts to make their vast col­lec­tion of cul­tur­al arti­facts freely acces­si­ble online. They’ve released not just dig­i­tized works of art, but also a great many art his­to­ry texts and art books in gen­er­al. Just this week, they announced an expan­sion of access to their dig­i­tal archive, in that they’ve made near­ly 88,000 images free to down­load on their Open Con­tent data­base under Cre­ative Com­mons Zero (CC0). That means “you can copy, mod­i­fy, dis­trib­ute and per­form the work, even for com­mer­cial pur­pos­es, all with­out ask­ing per­mis­sion.”

The Get­ty sug­gests that you “add a print of your favorite Dutch still life to your gallery wall or cre­ate a show­er cur­tain using the Iris­es by Van Gogh.” But if you search the open con­tent in their archive your­self, you can sure­ly get much more cre­ative than that.

The por­tal’s inter­face lets you search by cre­ation date (with a time­line graph stretch­ing back to the year 6000 BC), medi­um (from agate and alabaster to wood­cut and zinc), object type (includ­ing paint­ings, pho­tographs, and sculp­tures, of course, but also akro­te­ria, horse trap­pings, and tweez­ers), and cul­ture. The selec­tion reflects the wide man­date of the Get­ty’s col­lec­tion, which encom­pass­es as many of the civ­i­liza­tions of the world as it does the eras of human his­to­ry.

In the Get­ty’s open-con­tent archive, you’ll find ancient sculp­ture from Greece, Rome and many oth­er parts of the world besides; a frag­men­tary oinochoe (that is, a wine jug) from third-cen­tu­ry-BC Ptole­ma­ic Egypt; lav­ish­ly illu­mi­nat­ed medieval books of hours (of the kind pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture); works by such inno­v­a­tive French painters as Édouard Manet and Edgar Degas; the stereo­scop­ic pho­tog­ra­phy of Car­leton H. Graves, who in the late nine­teenth and ear­ly twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry cap­tured places from Den­mark and Pales­tine, to Japan and Korea; the dar­ing abstrac­tions of artists like Hannes Maria Flach, Jaromír Funke, and Fran­cis Bruguière. But what you do with them is, of course, entire­ly up to you. Enter the col­lec­tion here.

Relat­ed con­tent:

The Get­ty Dig­i­tal Archive Expands to 135,000 Free Images: Down­load High Res­o­lu­tion Scans of Paint­ings, Sculp­tures, Pho­tographs & Much Much More

A Search Engine for Find­ing Free, Pub­lic Domain Images from World-Class Muse­ums

100,000 Free Art His­to­ry Texts Now Avail­able Online Thanks to the Get­ty Research Por­tal

Down­load Great Works of Art from 40+ Muse­ums World­wide: Explore Artvee, the New Art Search Engine

The Smith­son­ian Puts 4.5 Mil­lion High-Res Images Online and Into the Pub­lic Domain, Mak­ing Them Free to Use

Down­load Over 325 Free Art Books From the Get­ty Muse­um

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Comments (7)
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  • Eileen Tipple says:

    Would like tolearn how to get images.

  • Janet Borders says:

    Wow cool love the old Get­ty ! Why did you do this ? Is it legal
    To use these images in art work ? Crazy. Thanks by the way
    How do you sug­gest we use them in oil paint­ings ? Can I sell them? Any­thing I use in my oil paint­ings. ?
    Thanks so much.

  • Maureen Davenport says:

    What an incred­i­ble gift!
    Thank you for open­ing your archives to the world !

  • Susan says:

    Hi! I would like to know how to access your free art con­tent from the Get­ty. Do you have an on-line cat­a­log?

    I am reluc­tant to give a dona­tion before I see the qual­i­ty of the images.

    Thanks in advance for your response.

  • Matt says:

    More than a lit­tle con­cern­ing. A col­lec­tor sweeps up (robs graves and loots and then trades) cul­tur­al col­lat­er­al and mate­r­i­al cul­ture from around the world. Then decides, with­out exter­nal con­sul­ta­tion, which objects war­rant repa­tri­a­tion and then decides to “open it up” to the Inter­net free of charge, free of prove­nance; free of oblig­a­tion to, or even under­stand­ing of, the sig­nif­i­cance of the mate­r­i­al, the mate­ri­al’s val­ue to its com­mu­ni­ty or to the indi­vid­u­als (or decen­dants there­of) depict­ed with­in the mate­r­i­al. The mate­r­i­al is made avail­able to any­one curi­ous and on the inter­net, with no need to con­sid­er its right­ful cus­to­di­ans. Sim­i­lar­ly, there is no oblig­a­tion to con­sid­er any imma­te­r­i­al val­ue con­nect­ed to these trea­sures… let cen­turies of care, devo­tion, knowl­edge, fam­i­ly mem­o­ry, doc­u­men­ta­tion, trau­ma, explo­ration, spir­i­tu­al con­nec­tion, warn­ings, craft and men­tor­ship be splat­tered accross bill­boards, GIFS, fake news and social media trash-fires…

  • Michael McGuire says:

    How do I review the cat­a­logue of impres­sion­ists?

  • Keum, YongChan says:

    I have two ques­tions :
    I would like to make and sell goods such as pic­ture frames using the images of your art­work and donate the pro­ceeds.
    If you have some artist groups, I want to do toke­nomics with the groups to gen­er­ate rev­enue.
    It’s sim­ple to work togeth­er, send art groups’ insta­gram, youtube or web­site address to

    Where can I access your images?

    Sin­cere­ly yours.

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