Metropolitan Museum of Art Places 375,000 Works Under Creative Commons

Irises Vincent Van Gogh
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Gift of Adele R. Levy, 1958)

Art fans enjoyed a win Thursday morning when the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced it will place 375,000 works of art in its collection under creative commons. Not only does this mean all the works are available for viewing online, but the public can now download the works of art and use them in any and all capacities.

The New York museum’s “open access” policy used to be anything but. Now, the Met has actually opened up to allow unrestricted access to and use of any images in the public domain. They’ve employed the use of the license designation Creative Commons Zero, known as CCO, in their distribution. Under the new program, the 375,000 pieces can be used for “any purpose, including commercial and noncommercial use, free of charge and without requiring permission from the Museum.”

The pieces include works by Vincent van Gogh to historical dress. Of the museum’s 1.5 million works, an additional 65,000 artworks have been digitized but are not yet available in the public domain.

“Sharing is fundamental to how we promote discovery, innovation, and collaboration in the digital age,” said Ryan Merkley, the CEO of Creative Commons. “The Met has given the world a profound gift in service of its mission: the largest encyclopedic art museum in North America has eliminated the barriers that would otherwise prohibit access to its content, and invited the world to use, remix, and share their public-domain collections widely and without restriction.”

Would-be viewers can go on the collection’s webpage and check the box “public domain artworks.” Users can also download high resolution copies of the artwork for free.