Public Creative Legacies: Newly Released Images are a Digital Resource

POBA celebrates the recent release of some digital treasures to the public domain, thereby keeping art alive and providing copyright-free images for public viewing and use.

According to its website, ‘the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) is the world’s largest open access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives. BHL is revolutionizing global research by providing free, worldwide access to knowledge about life on Earth.’ That’s amazing for research and understanding of the natural world. But for the artists and art appreciators out there, this collection is also an amazing array of stunningly beautiful images, some centuries old.

Also released in January 2020 to the public domain were more than 150,000 high resolution digital images from Paris Musées, a group of 14 public museums in Paris. The Collections portal, a new website, is written in French but can be viewed in English, and offers search and filtering options that allow access to a variety of previously hidden treasures from the French art world.

In an initial release of more than 2.8 million images and more to come, the Smithsonian Institution has just provided access on its copyright-free site, Smithsonian Open Access. To “the increase and diffusion of knowledge,” the Smithsonian invites creative repurposing of these images from its 19 museums, as well as its research centers, archives, libraries and the National Zoo.

What can you do with these treasures?