Oh Look, Paris Just Released 150,000 Images Of Artwork Into The Public Domain

If you’ve always dreamed of taking a trip to Paris to feast your eyes on some world-class art, you no longer need to book that plane ticket. Thanks to Paris Musées, a collection of 14 museums in Paris, there are now more than 150,000 high-resolution digital copies of works of art available online for free without restrictions. Their collections website includes works from well-known artists like Rembrandt, Monet, Picasso and Cézanne, as well as thousands of others.

And it’s not just paintings: Over at Jason Kottke’s blog, kottke.org, he notes that he was especially happy to see the works of photographer Eugène Atget, who captured life on Parisian streets, featured on the site.

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Users can search for images by the museum that houses the work, the artist/creator, the time period and the dominant colours. Once an image is selected, you can download a 300 DPI image, as well as details about the work, and a guide of best practices for using and citing the sources of the image. People are seemingly so enthusiastic about this new resource that at the time of publication, the site was pretty slow and crashed a few times before we were able to download an image. We’ll chalk that up to growing pains and be back to browse more later.

Not sure where to start? The site will offer virtual exhibitions in order to highlight some of the lesser-known artists and encourage people to download and reuse their work. Speaking of which, here’s what you need to know about reuse, per Hyperallergic:

At this stage, images available are of 2D artworks, such as paintings or photographs, that belong in the public sphere under a CC0 (Creative Commons Zero) licence, which allows creators and owners of copyrighted or database-protected content to place those works in or as close as possible to the public domain. (Works still in copyright will be available as low definition files, so users can still get a feel for the museums’ collections online.)

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According to a press release Paris Musées shared with Hyperallergic: “Making this data available guarantees that our digital files can be freely accessed and reused by anyone or everyone, without any technical, legal or financial restraints, whether for commercial use or not.”


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