Annie Cavanagh, A diatom frustule

Color-enhanced image of a diatom frustule by Annie Cavanagh. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0.

As part of our Open Artstor initiative, we are making an increasing number of Creative Commons-licensed museum, library, and archive collections freely accessible to everyone on our platform — already a destination for scholars using visual media. The collections have been selected for their value to the humanities and sciences, providing researchers with a central place in which to discover and use open images from a wide variety of sources alongside other relevant materials.

Since 2004, Artstor has worked with museums, archives, artists, and scholars to make available high-quality, rights-cleared images to enhance scholarship and teaching. Now, openly available works across disparate institutional sites will be discoverable with an “Open Artstor” label alongside the subscription-based core collections.

We took our first steps towards this goal in 2016 when we released a significant portion of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection on our platform under a Creative Commons Zero license. Our upcoming release, the Wellcome Collection from the Wellcome Trust, contains more than 100,000 images exploring the connections between medicine, life, and art. This will be followed by additional open collections from the Folger Shakespeare Library, Science Museum Group, London, and others.

As we grow the open materials on Artstor, we are also continuing to expand the licensed Artstor Digital Library collection. Since our founding, we have done considerable work to provide collections that are not available on the open web, such as licensing a large body of images from the Magnum Photos archive, working with artists’ rights societies like ARS and SODRAC to make images of contemporary works available, commissioning ART on FILE and other photographers to document world architecture, and sharing archives created by scholars with the broader community.