Today (7 February), the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York announced that over 375,000 images of works of art from its collection are now available online for unrestricted commercial and non-commercial use in a new initiative, Open Access. Increasing public access to the collection “has been a key priority for the museum over the past decade”, Thomas Campbell, the museum’s director and chief executive, said at a press conference today. While the museum’s collection includes two million works spanning 5,000 years, the majority of the works could not be included in Open Access, due to issues such as copyright or donor restrictions.
Open Access goes a step beyond the museum’s Open Access for Scholarly Content project, launched in 2014, which made 400,000 high-resolution images of works in the public domain free to download for non-commercial use. The new initiative utilises the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) designation, which allows individuals and institutions to waive copyrights and database protection so that content can be used for any purpose, without restrictions. The Met has teamed up with Creative Commons, Arstor, DPLA, Pinterest and Wikipedia for the CC0 initiative—even hiring its first “Wikimedian-in-Residence”, Richard Knipel, to help share works on platforms such as Wikimedia Commons.