From the Museum to Your Desktop: The Growing Collection of Free Images (Atlantic)

Bowdoin College Museum of Art co-directors Frank Goodyear and Anne Goodyear.

Bowdoin College Museum of Art co-directors Frank Goodyear and Anne Goodyear.

The J. Paul Getty Trust has become the latest institution to make high-quality digital images of artwork available online free of charge. The Getty’s Open Content Program makes available more than 4,600 images, including Van Gogh’s “Irises,” which was on display for years at the former Westbrook College (now the University of New England) in Portland, Maine.

“The J. Paul Getty Trust is to be saluted for significantly opening access to its extraordinary collections,” says Bowdoin College Museum of Art Co-Director and College Art Association President Anne Goodyear, who spoke about the digitization of museum collections on The Kojo Nnamadi Show on Washington, D.C.’s WAMU radio in June 2013.

“Artists, scholars, and other lovers of the visual arts benefit immensely from the opportunity to engage and publish works of art. While a reproduction is never to be confused with the original, it provides an invaluable tool for making observations about how a composition has been conceived, developed and executed. Great works of art have significance for global culture that far exceeds the reach they have on the wall of a single institution. They are most valuable when shared broadly and allowed to stimulate, provoke and inspire further creative activity. In making available immediately reproductions of 4,600 of its most important works, and promising to do more in the future, Getty has joined the ranks of other important institutions that have released its public domain works for public consumption, including the National Gallery of Art, the Walters, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, the Yale Center for British Art, and the Rijksmuseum. Such a commitment to access on the part of the Getty and peer institutions provides an invaluable model for expanding the scope and the relevance of the resources of all cultural institutions.”

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