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Blog Category: Public collections

April 15, 2020

Free art backgrounds for video conferences

In this time of social distancing, it seems like everyone has turned to videoconferencing, from your teachers to your family. But perhaps you don’t want your grandparents to compare the size of your Brooklyn apartment to that of your cousin in Texas, or for your colleagues to see the dishes piling up in your kitchen sink. Open Artstor has you covered! We’ve selected a dozen artistic backgrounds to have you looking your best, including masterpieces by Van Gogh and Monet–download them for free at artstor.org/zoom.

Vincent van Gogh. Wheat Field with Cypresses

Vincent van Gogh. Wheat Field with Cypresses, 1889. From Open Artstor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Creative Commons: Free Reuse (CC0)

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March 19, 2020

New: Open Artstor: The Cleveland Museum of Art

Explore one of our finest museums virtually

Ogata Korin, follower of. Chrysanthemums by a Stream. Late 1700s - early 1800s.

Ogata Korin, follower of. Chrysanthemums by a Stream. Late 1700s – early 1800s. One of a pair of folding screens; ink and color on gilded paper. Image and data provided by The Cleveland Museum of Art. CCO 1.0.

In collaboration with The Cleveland Museum of Art and their comprehensive Open Access initiative, Artstor has published an expansive selection of works from this leading repository, freely available to all and with Creative Commons licenses in Open Artstor: The Cleveland Museum of Art. This is part of a new, free initiative to aggregate open museum, library, and archive collections across disciplines on the Artstor platform — already a destination for scholars using visual media. Incorporating more than 10,000 years of history and iconic works from every corner of the globe, this collection includes nearly 29,000 images offering considerable coverage of the museum’s encyclopedic collection — paintings from Nicolas Poussin to Georgia O’Keeffe, precious jewels and scrolls from China, Japanese screens and kimonos, African and Native American ritual attire and objects, pre-Columbian gold, photography, and much more.

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January 8, 2020

Artstor’s 2019 year in review

The end of the decade marks the beginning of our open access era

In 2019 we kicked off our Open Artstor initiative and began aggregating cross-disciplinary museum, library, and archive collections and making them available to all via Creative Commons licenses. We capped the year with the publication of three expansive and diverse collections.

Cell in laser beam, flow cytometry, illustration.
Cell in laser beam, flow cytometry, illustration. Wellcome Collection. Credit: Neil Dufton. CC BY 4.0.
Klein bottle
Science Museum Group. Klein bottle, 1995. 1996-558. Science Museum Group Collection Online. Accessed January 3, 2020. https://collection.sciencemuseumgroup.org.uk/objects/co415806. CC BY 4.0.
Personal Computer, model Apple I.
Science Museum Group. Personal Computer, model Apple I. 1999-915. Science Museum Group Collection Online. Accessed January 3, 2020. https://collection.sciencemuseumgroup.org.uk/objects/co503422. CC BY 4.0.
Pinckney Marcius-Simons. Illustrations to A Midsummer Night's Dream. 1908. Image and data provided by the Folger Shakespeare Library. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

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October 29, 2019

New collection — Open Artstor: Science Museum Group

The "Coronation Scot" train at Penrith, 1938

Science Museum Group. London Midland & Scottish Railway Collection. The “Coronation Scot” train at Penrith. 1938. 1997-7409. From a set of glass and film negatives. Science Museum Group Collection Online. Accessed October 17, 2019. https://collection.sciencemuseumgroup.org.uk/objects/co423016. CC BY 4.0.

The Open Artstor: Science Museum Group collection is now available, featuring a selection of nearly 50,000 images from the Science Museum Group (UK) under Creative Commons licenses that span science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine. This is part of a new, free initiative to aggregate open museum, library, and archive collections across disciplines on the Artstor platform — already a destination for scholars using visual media.

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October 9, 2019

Open Artstor: Folger Shakespeare Library

Open Artstor: Folger Shakespeare Library is now available with a selection of more than 8,000 images from the Digital Image Collection of the Folger Shakespeare Library. Provided under Creative Commons licenses, these images illuminate the history and output of Shakespeare and theater in general, from illustrated manuscripts and rare books, costume and stagecraft, to actors’ portraits and miscellanea. This is part of our new, free initiative to aggregate Open Access museum, library, and archive collections across disciplines on the Artstor platform — already a destination for scholars using visual media. 

Beginning in 1889, Henry Clay Folger and his wife, Emily Jordan Folger, began to amass rare books and associated media, founding the Folger Shakespeare Library, the world’s leader in Shakespeareana, in 1932. Their success may be gleaned from a handful of outstanding examples across the Open Artstor collection. 

John Austen. Hamlet

John Austen. Hamlet, from a set of 121 original drawings. By 1922. Pen and ink. Image and data provided by the Folger Shakespeare Library. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

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September 27, 2019

New: 100,000 images from the Wellcome Collection

A woman dropping her porcelain tea-cup in horror upon discovering the monstrous contents of a magnified drop of Thames water; revealing the impurity of London drinking water. Colored etching by W. Heath, 1828

A woman dropping her porcelain tea-cup in horror upon discovering the monstrous contents of a magnified drop of Thames water; revealing the impurity of London drinking water. Colored etching by W. Heath, 1828. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0.

The Open Artstor: Wellcome Collection is now available, featuring a selection of more than 100,000 images from the Wellcome Collection that connect science, medicine, technology, life, and art under Creative Commons licenses. This is part of a new, free initiative to aggregate open museum, library, and archive collections across disciplines on the Artstor platform — already a destination for scholars using visual media.

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September 20, 2019

More open collections coming to Artstor

Annie Cavanagh, A diatom frustule

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

Artstor is making an increasing number of Creative Commons-licensed museum, library, and archive collections freely accessible to everyone on its 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.

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July 25, 2019

Three ornithology collections that are free as the birds

The history of ornithology (the scientific study of birds) has involved observations captured in imagery going as far back as prehistoric stone-age drawings.[1] As ornithology developed as a natural science it faced the aesthetic challenge of convincingly capturing depictions of different bird species,[2] leading to beautifully documented and historically fascinating works of illustration.

Several Artstor public collections — available freely to anyone — showcase ornithological illustration starting as early as the 16th century and on through to the 19th century. Here are three of our favorites:

Cornell’s Laboratory of Ornithology Gallery of Bird and Wildlife Art has more than 1,000 works of art from the last two centuries by bird artists such as Alexander Wilson, John James Audubon, and Louis Agassiz Fuertes.

Alexander Pope, Jr. The Pinnated Grouse. 1878.
Alexander Pope, Jr. The Pinnated Grouse. 1878. Cornell University Lab of Ornithology Art Collection.
Louis Agassiz Fuertes. Imperial Eagle. Ca. 1895.
Louis Agassiz Fuertes. Imperial Eagle. Ca. 1895. Cornell University Lab of Ornithology Art Collection

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July 9, 2019

Books of hours: illuminating the Trinity College Watkinson Library public collection

Attributed to Studio of unknown French (illuminator), Possibly Style of unknown Flemish (illuminator). c.1470 (creation date). Book of Hours (Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis in Usum Ecclesiae Romanae cum Calendario), Folio 86v: Hours of the Virgin: Compline: Entombment, overall, left, with Folio 87r at right. Illumination, Leaf (component), Manuscript. Place: Trinity College, Watkinson Library (Hartford, Connecticut, USA).

Attributed to Studio of unknown French (illuminator), Possibly Style of unknown Flemish (illuminator). c.1470 (creation date). Book of Hours (Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis in Usum Ecclesiae Romanae cum Calendario), Folio 86v: Hours of the Virgin: Compline: Entombment, overall, left, with Folio 87r at right. Illumination, Leaf (component), Manuscript. Place: Trinity College, Watkinson Library (Hartford, Connecticut, USA).

Books of hours are devotional texts that contain a personalized selection of prayers, hymns, psalms, and New Testament excerpts chosen specifically for their owner. Popular in the Middle Ages, the most expensive of these books could be highly decorated, but the more affordable versions usually only showed minimal decoration, usually of the first letter of a page. They had, in fact, become so popular by the 16th century that they were often owned by people from all walks of society; servants even had their own copies—there is a court case from 1500 where a pauper woman was accused of stealing a servant’s book of hours. 

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March 4, 2019

What’s in the box? The art of reliquaries

A gilt-silver reliquary with translucent enamel decoration.

Attributed to Jean de Touyl. Reliquary Shrine from the convent of the Poor Clares at Buda. ca. 1325-50. Image and data courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Cloisters Collection.

Relics—bits of bone, clothing, shoes or dust—from Christian martyrs became popular in Western Christianity in the Middle Ages. The cult of relics dates back to the second and third centuries, when martyrs were persecuted and often killed in ways that fragmented the body, which was taboo in Roman society. The intention was to desecrate the body through execution and burning. But, Caroline Walker Bynum and Paula Gerson state that by the “late third to early fourth centuries the fragments of the martyrs had come to be revered as loci of power and special access to the divine” and, by the Second Council of Nicea in 787, relics were required for the consecration of altars.

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