If you’ve ever gone to a museum, then tried to find a work of art you’d seen in person online, you know what a disappointment this can be. Just do a Google image search of your favorite painting, for example, and you’ll inevitably come up with hundreds of iterations, all varied in their coloration, and some even in their composition! Try to find a poster of a masterwork, and you get silly motivational posters or worse.
Now, however, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is really coming into the digital age by allowing you to download image from it’s library of nearly 400,000 works of art in high-resolution, for free. They used to require permission, and charged a fee.
Now, the Metropolitan Museum of Art lets you browse the images by artist/maker/culture, medium/method, location, and date and download them in sizes up to 10MP. There are 35,000 photographs to choose from, including 12,000 watercolors, 12,500 paintings, and more. Sure, you’ll find works from Rembrandt, Cezanne, Picasso, Matisse, Van Gogh and other popular artists, but you’ll also find some real treasures browsing through the online collection, like textiles, fashion archives, calligraphy, images of relics, and more. Create a MyMet account and you can curate your own collection of images you love as you browse the archives. So long as you are using them for personal or scholarly use and give credit where credit is due, you can start decorating your walls, desktops, and more with amazing works of art.
The Metropolitan Museum’s initiative—called Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC)—provides access to images of art in its collection that the Museum believes to be in the public domain. Visit the collection to start downloading your own art. Not all images are downloadable. Look for the OASC logo below the image you are interested in to download it using the download arrow.