The Smithsonian Institution has released an online gallery of 2.8 million images with more to come. The massive collection includes images and data from across the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, along with nine research centers, libraries, archives, and the National Zoo. And the best of all is: all photos are copyright-free and available for you to download and use.
Smithsonian Magazine writes that the aim of its Open Access platform isn’t just for the viewers to view its contents. They can use it and transform it however they like, considering that all the 2D and 3D images are in the public domain.
“Being a relevant source for people who are learning around the world is key to our mission,” says the Smithsonian’s senior digital program officer Effie Kapsalis. “We can’t imagine what people are going to do with the collections. We’re prepared to be surprised,” she adds.
If you think a collection of 2.8 million images is impressive (I sure do), be prepared for another surprise. The Smithsonian’s entire collection contains 155 million items and it keeps growing. As a part of its efforts to digitize it, the Smithsonian plans to roll out another 200,000 images to the Open Access platform in 2020 only. And they say there are more to come.
Personally, news about new open access galleries always makes me thrilled. First, I enjoy browsing through historic images simply out of curiosity, and I always run into some real gems. Then, online galleries like these are valuable sources for me as a photographer and a blogger. I can find old photos to colorize or to add to my articles. And last but not least – these galleries are fantastic for all students, teachers, scientists, and researchers out there. It makes me happy to see that they’ll get easier access to a lot of valuable material that could help their work.
If you’d like to browse through Smithsonian’s gallery, you can access it here. There are so incredibly many different objects and photos, but here are a few pretty random interesting images I stumbled upon while browsing:
Here’s also a list of other institutions that offer copyright-free images, sound samples, and books:
- Europeana Photography Collection
- The Met Museum online gallery
- Arab Image Foundation gallery
- Cleveland Museum of Art’s collection
- NASA image gallery
- American Museum of Natural History Research Library
- The Guggenheim Museum online archive (books)
- BBC Archive (sound samples)
- Paris Musées