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New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art Just Released 375,000 Free Images

John Singer Sargent
John Singer Sargent's 'Reclining Nude' (1910)

"They can be used however you want to use them."

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art announced today that it will be making all public domain works in its collection available online for anyone to use however they so choose.

Under the license designation Creative Commons Zero (CCo), the Met updated its Open Access Policy, so that a range of digital images could be created, organized and disseminated under two categories: images believed to be public domain and images under copyright.

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"Our comprehensive and diverse museum collection spans 5,000 years of world culture," said Met director Thomas P. Campbell about the news. "Our core mission is to be open and accessible for all who wish to study and enjoy the works of art in our care. Increasing access to the museum's collection and scholarship serves the interests and needs of our 21st-century audiences by offering new resources for creativity, knowledge, and ideas."

The Met's digital images are uploaded in high-resolution, with 4,000-pixel-wide photos now available for 200,000 works in the museum's collections, or a total of 375,000 images. At a press cfsonference, the Met's Chief Digital Officer Loic Tallon said this allows viewers to zoom in closely on images to "really see the beauty."

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According to Campbell, these 375,000 images represent the "main body of our collections," but another 65,000 works have been digitized, despite not being public domain. To make this possible and spread its online reach, the Met joined forces with a number of partners, including Creative Commons, Wikimedia and Pinterest.

Now on the Met's website, anyone can directly download images. "They can be used however you want to use them," Tallon said, marking a monumental move in the Internet's relationship with art.

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