The Metropolitan Museum of Art Makes 375,000 Images of Fine Art Available Under a Creative Commons License*
On February 7, 2017, The Met announced,
“As of today, all images of public-domain works in The Met collection are available under Creative Commons Zero (CC0). So whether you’re an artist or a designer, an educator or a student, a professional or a hobbyist, you now have more than 375,000 images of artworks from our collection to use, share, and remix—without restriction.”
The Museum’s Mission: To Make Art Accessible to Everyone, Everywhere
“This policy change to Open Access is an exciting milestone in The Met’s digital evolution, and a strong statement about increasing access to the collection and how to best fulfill the Museum’s mission in a digital age.”
“Since our audience is really the three billion internet-connected individuals around the world, we need to think big about how to reach these viewers, and increase our focus on those digital tactics that have the greatest impact. Open Access is one of those tactics.”
How it Works
“Alongside the images, we’re also making available under CC0 each artwork’s key information, otherwise known as tombstone data—title, maker, date, culture, medium, and dimensions—on all 440,000 artworks that the Museum has digitized to date; this data is now available as a downloadable file on GitHub. By making this information available in a clear, machine-readable format, we are making it easier for the world to search for, play with, and explore the breadth and depth of the Museum’s collection.”
The Numbers: 30 Million, 300 Billion …
“We’re privileged to serve over 30 million visitors on our website each year, which we see as the canonical source for information about the collection; but if we want to connect the collection to three billion individuals around the world, we know that they’re never all going to come to metmuseum.org.
If one we to publish these 370,000 in volumes of 600 pages each, it would total 625 volumes. If one were to look at the 375,000 at the rate of 50 per day, it would take 7,500 days, or 20.54 years.
The Significance: “After the War”, “Après la Guerre”
The phrase “After the War,” ( “Après la Guerre”) is used metaphorically to describe a period after the destruction. For example, history has seen the destruction of the art and cultures of Greece, Rome, Egypt, and early humans. What if ours is destroyed?
The Chuavet Cave and the Lascaux Cave in France served as the gateways to the culture and art that existed 35,000 year ago. Where will those who come after us look? It may be that the digital record is all that will still exist. It is there that the whole culture and art of the human race will be found. Thus, the significance of the digital record being created by the Met and other institutions is that our art and culture will be enduring, even after we are gone.