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Public domain images

18 January 2018

Readers and potential contributors will find this information useful:

From: Alexandra Provo []
Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 4:36 PM
Subject: Re: [ARLIS/NA VRD] Sources for Images for Art Documentation?

Hello all,

Please see below for the expanded list of sources for public domain and relatively unrestricted images. There is still time to add your go-to resources to this list, which will be used to find images for the cover of Art Documentation.

Many thanks for your help!

With best wishes,


2016-2017 VRD Moderator


Public Access Image Databases

  • Yale University

o   Open Access Policy

o   Yale Center for British Art Collections Search

o   Yale University Art Gallery Collections Search

  • National Gallery of Art

o   Open Access Policy

o   Collections Search

  • The Getty

o   Open Content Program

o   Getty Search Gateway


o   Terms of Use

o   Collections Search

  • Walters Art Museum

o   Collections Search

  • Rijksstudio
    A service of the Rijksmuseum, Rijksstudio offers high resolution images (4500x4500px usually) for public domain works via a direct download on the site.

o   For ordering TIFFs:

o   Rijksstudio search and browse:

  • NYPL Digital Collections
    You can limit your search to public domain images only.

o   Explanation of public domain collections:

o   Public domain search results page:

  • Library of Congress Digital Collections
    This collection contains a mix of restricted and unrestricted works. However, each subcollection has detailed information regarding usage restrictions. Some material does not have restrictions (for example, drawings from the Lamb Studios Drawings)

o   Master list of rights for subcollections:

o   Collection search:

  • Wellcome Images
    Historical images are available for free, high-res download and are licensed under CC-BY 4.0 (creative commons attribution-only license). The images must be credited.

o   Policy: (see “Services” section)

o   Collections search:

  • Europeana Art History Collection
    Europeana allows you to limit to “Free re-use” images on the search results page.

o   Terms and policies:

o   Search for art history images:

  • Flickr Commons
    This is a collection of material from various cultural heritage institutions, which contribute images of works believed to be in the public domain.

o   Flickr Commons rights statement explanation:

o   Commons search page:

  • Flickr
    The main Flickr website also allows you to filter by license. Many images are licensed using creative commons licenses, some of which allow for modifications (like cropping) and commercial use. Appropriate filters would be: Commercial use & mods allowed, No known copyright restrictions, U.S. Government works

o   Flickr search:

  • OpenGLAM
    OpenGLAM is a directory of open access image collections online.

o   OpenGLAM directory listing:

  • Public Domain Review
    Public Domain Review is a curated online publication that also links to high-resolution images. The images page allows you to filter by rights. Some of the images come from Wikimedia Commons.

o   Public Domain Review Rights labeling explanation:

o   Public Domain Review Images page:


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