The Met Makes 400,000 Works of Art Free to Download

You'll never run out of phone background images again.

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art—or the Met, as it’s commonly known—will release more than 400,000 high-resolution images of works of art to the public domain. That means they can be downloaded and used for non-commercial purposes by anyone with an internet connection. No permission required.

The project is dubbed “Open Access for Scholarly Content,” and the museum says it will continue to add more digital files on a regular basis. It's a reflection of the Met’s belief that these artworks deserve to be enjoyed and studied by students, educators, artists, and researchers all over the world, whether they can visit New York or not.

In an announcement last week, Met director and CEO Thomas P. Campbell explained how the Met is joining a number of other museums in providing this kind of unrestricted access. The museum's online collection can be filtered by date, geographic location, artist, or even method.

The collection can be filtered by date, geographic location, artist, or even method. Tweet It

“Through this new, open-access policy, we join a growing number of museums that provide free access to images of art in the public domain,” Campbell said. “I am delighted that digital technology can open the doors to this trove of images from our encyclopedic collection.”

Crucially, many of the 400,000 works are not actually on display at the Met. They're among the innumerable pieces hidden away in storage, so the OASC initiative provides a rare chance to view them. Visitors can download a high-res version (generally 10 megapixels or larger) of any photo with an OASC logo.

Reclining Odalisque
Roger Fenton: [Reclining Odalisque] (Credit: The Rubel Collection, Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace, Anonymous, Joyce and Robert Menschel, Jennifer and Joseph Duke, and Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Gifts, 1997) View Larger
The Nativity with Donors and Saints Jerome and Leonard
Gerard David: "The Nativity with Donors and Saints Jerome and Leonard" (Credit: The Jules Bache Collection, 1949) View Larger
Summer Mountains
Attributed to Qu Ding: "Summer Mountains" (Credit: x coll.: C. C. Wang Family, Gift of The Dillon Fund, 1973) View Larger
Spring Blossoms, Montclair, New Jersey
George Inness: "Spring Blossoms, Montclair, New Jersey" (Credit: Gift of George A. Hearn, in memory of Arthur Hoppock Hearn, 1911) View Larger
The American School
Matthew Pratt: "The American School" (Credit: Gift of Samuel P. Avery, 1897) View Larger
Black Cañon, From Camp 8, Looking Above
Timothy H. O'Sullivan: "Black Cañon, From Camp 8, Looking Above" (Credit: Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest and The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1986) View Larger
October in the Marshes
John Frederick Kensett: "October in the Marshes" (Credit: Gift of Thomas Kensett, 1874) View Larger
Wheat Field with Cypresses
Vincent van Gogh: "Wheat Field with Cypresses" (Credit: Purchase, The Annenberg Foundation Gift, 1993) View Larger
The Unicorn in Captivity (from the Unicorn Tapestries)
Unknown: "The Unicorn in Captivity (from the Unicorn Tapestries)" (Credit: Gift of John D. Rockefeller Jr., 1937) View Larger

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