The Metropolitan Museum did an inspiring thing on February 7, 2017 — they made the pixels of images of 375,000 works of art in their collection available, easily, for free, for any use whatsoever, to anybody, anywhere, in the world. And they seem gleeful about it.
At a press conference announcing the Open Access policy, the Museum's Chief Digital Officer, Loic Tallon, said, "We believe we have something in this collection that can inspire every single person in the world."
Museum Director Thomas P. Campbell, speaking at the same press conference, noted that to increase public access worldwide to the collection has been a key priority for over a decade at the Met and spoke of its "desire to adapt our practices in order to best meet the needs of 21st-century audiences."
A Huge Help for Me
I discovered the Metropolitan Museum of Art's largesse when I searched the internet to see if I could find enough great public domain art to start a high-quality online store based on print-on-demand, without having to keep inventory. (I'm currently stuck in Guatemala.)
The answer was a resounding "yes".
As Tallon said, "Whether you are an artist, designer, student, teacher, hobbyist or professional, creator, maker of any kind, you now have 375,000 images from the Met collection to use however you choose to use them."
I'm in art lover's heaven, looking through the Met's collection — and looking through other smaller open access collections from other museums — and finding the pieces that sparkle, for me, like gems.
Then I take those works of art, and I look at them and I look at their pixels, and I say, "What can I do with you? To share you forward, to re-make you for the new age, to make you look fabulous, to share your essence, your beauty, your truth?"
Even though my enterprise is a commercial one — my store Anomaly Panoply is intended to make money to get me and my animals back home to Cascadia — I like to think the artworks feel respected, and that the Met would be pleased.
Check out Anomaly Panoply's collection of items featuring Horses, by Paul-Albert Besnard.