Public Domain Sources

Yale Art Gallery Open Access and Orphan Works

The Yale University Art Gallery opened it collection to the public  and allows images to be downloaded without permission as long as the individual items are in the public domain.  It is not possible to limit the search parameters specifically to images in the public domain.  One must search for the desired image(s), and use the meta-data to determine whether or not the image is in the public domain.  Only images that are in the public domain will give the user the opportunity to download the image.  The Gallery also makes available orphan works for download.  Among the orphan works in the museum’s collection available for download is Edward Hopper’s Western Motel.


USDA Research Photos Could Aid Emerging Museums

The Office of Communications in the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Office has made its searchable collection of photographs available online.  The images are included in categories such as animals, lab research, crops, food, illustrations and other digital assets.  The images are free of copyright and are in the public domain; however, the website rights statement notes that images may not be used in a way that would be construed as endorsement by the USDA.  This collection could be helpful to the collections of smaller museums such as the Bayer Museum of Agriculture, but the museum would need to take care to abide by the policy regarding use and endorsement.

NGA Images at the National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art created a portal to over 45,000 digital images with the open access designation.   The images may be downloaded and used free of charge.  The terms of use include the works held by the National Gallery that exist in the public domain. Some pieces in the collection are still under copyright restriction. The goal of the open access designation is to promote scholarship, research and pleasure in the arts.  Established in 1937 by a gift of Andrew Mellon, the National Gallery’s collection sought to create a national art museum on par with the national museums such as the Louvre.  Items in the collection include works by Lippi, van Eyck, da Vinci and Bernini among others.

Prelinger Archives Houses “Orphan” Content

Purchased by the Library of Congress, the Prelinger Archive holds an eclectic array of visual images as well as audio and video recordings including, among others,  advertisements, home movies, commercials, and educational films. The mission of the archive is to create a repository for content that might not find a home in other collections.  The content is wide ranging and provides data for perspectives that might not be included in a traditional archive.  Additionally, the Prelinger Archive contains stock footage that may be accessed through a relationship with Getty Images.  It is housed at the Internet Archive.  The page references its rights statement, but it doesn’t appear to be in the location stated.

NASA Commons site on Flickr promotes NASA Archive

Promoted through Flickr, the mission of NASA on The Commons is to make the visual record of NASA’s experience in “space exploration, scientific discovery, and aeronautics research” available to the public.  The NASA images are actually housed digitally at the NASA Images Web site.  NASA’s Media Usage Guidelines outline the limits of usage.  NASA does make a distinction between commercial use and informational or educational use.  Most of the content is already in the public domain and includes images and videos of human and mechanical space exploration, models and and maps,  as well as digital media depicting the people and events that have shaped NASA’s legacy of memory on earth.

Open Content at the Getty

The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has adopted an Open Content Program . The Getty provides free availability to all of the digital images in the collection for which the Getty either holds the right or for those that exist in the public domain.  The Getty does not restrict the the use of the images and does not require that permission be requested.  A more detailed outline of the rights statement can be found at the page outlining the philosophy behind the Open Content Program.

The Getty is the “world’s largest cultural and philanthropic organization dedicated to the visual arts.”  Its collection contains objects from antiquity, drawings, manuscripts, paintings, photographs and objects representing sculpture and the decorative arts. The Getty Search Gateway provides the doorway to the collection.