The Metropolitain Museum of Art has always showcased its works for free — assuming you're cool with skirting the "suggested donation" booth at the entrance (not something we condone, by the way). But the museum took a giant leap into the open-access future this weekend by offering a vast segment of its collection online for free.
The Museum digitized some 400,000 artworks and posted them free for download in high-resolution on its website. All the pieces currently available are in the public domain already, which means they're not under copyright and rights to their reproductions aren't specifically owned by anyone.
"Through this new, open-access policy, we join a growing number of museums that provide free access to images of art in the public domain," the Met's Director and CEO Thomas P. Cambell said in a release. "I am delighted that digital technology can open the doors to this trove of images from our encyclopedic collection.”
Cambell is no doubt referring to expansive databases like Google Art Projects, which offers digital tours of museums around the world and a storehouse of thousands of digital reproductions of important artworks, all available online for free.
The Met's new site dedicated to the project offers a wealth of information about each image (the kind of thing you'd find on a gallery wall), and users can browse by artist, genre, time period, or any number of other options.
You can take a look through the entire collection here. And in the gallery above, you'll find a sampling of what's available.