Museums house most of the world's greatest art collections, often gloriously placed in exhibits. But it is often difficult for visitors to fully enjoy an artwork up close.

This is why some companies, like Google, offer alternative ways to look at artworks through augmented reality.

Today, museums attempt to bring art to more people by sharing high-resolution images of their collections. The only problem is, not all pieces can be used for personal consumption due to strict licensing.

This is where the Metropolitan Museum of Art's open access policy comes in.

High-Resolution Images Of Artworks Now Open To All

The Met Museum announced on Feb. 7 that 375,000 high resolution images of artworks in its collection are now under the Creative Commons Zero license. This means that hundreds of thousands of artworks can now be accessed, downloaded, and used however people want without needing to ask for permission or being afraid about possible intellectual property lawsuits.

The best part is that it is all for free so anyone can easily insert the work of Vincent Van Gogh, Utagawa Kunisada, Goya, and of other famous artists in their presentations.

This is all a part of Met's goal to make fine art more accessible to everyone, whichever part of the world they are in.

Public Domain Artworks

The Met Museum is not the first museum to give people open access to its collections. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Dallas Museum of Art, the Yale Art Gallery, and the Getty Museum have all taken similar steps far earlier. But what makes Met's action noteworthy is the sheer number of works instantly made available for unrestricted access.

Anyone can just go over to the Metropolitan Museum's website to search for images to download — just be sure to tick the check box for "Public Domain Artworks." If that is too broad and you can't be bothered to look for the "CC0" tag, you can always just choose from 20 thematic sets that the Met has arranged.

Here is one of the CC0 images under the "Arms and Armor" theme.

And here's one from "Cats:"

... and here's a Botticelli from the "Masterpiece Paintings" collection:

"Our core mission is to be open and accessible for all who wish to study and enjoy the works of art in our care. Increasing access to the Museum's collection and scholarship serves the interests and needs of our 21st-century audiences by offering new resources for creativity, knowledge, and ideas," said Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

As part of its mission, the Met also collaborated with Wikimedia to expand the reach of its open access collections.

"Wikipedia's hundreds of millions of users from around the globe will now be able to experience The Met's greatest treasures, no matter where they live," Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Katherine Maher said.

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