Publications, Scholarship

New Virtual Library Offers over 250 Art Books for Free Download

Getty Publications makes 45 years of art and conservation titles available online, with more to come

45 years of art books for free - Getty Publications Virtual Library

When we launched the Open Content Program last summer and released 4,600 collection images to the public (a number that has since more than doubled), I cited this quote from the most recent museum edition of the NMC Horizon Report: “it is now the mark—and social responsibility—of world-class institutions to develop and share free cultural and educational resources.” This dictum continues to inform our efforts here at the Getty, and today I am very pleased to share with you our latest project in this arena, the Virtual Library: An open, online repository of more than 250 Getty publications from our 45-year publishing history, available as high-quality scans to read online, or to download in their entirety, for free.

I am unabashedly biased about the work we do at the Getty, but I believe you’ll find some extraordinary titles here—made even more extraordinary by the fact that they are now only a single click away. For example, in 2004, the Getty presented the first-ever exhibition of Cézanne’s beautiful watercolor still lifes. The catalogue published with the exhibition was written by scholar Carol Armstrong and is a moving examination of this most subtle and luminous  of mediums and genres. It’s now free in the Virtual Library. So too is the definitive English translation of Otto Wagner’s modernist manifesto, Modern Architecture. Not to mention books on important globe-spanning conservation projects as the wall paintings of Nefertari’s tomb in Egypt, ancient sites along the silk road, and historic adobe buildings in our own earthquake-prone Southern California backyard.

Getty Publications Virtual Library offers 40 years of art books for free

The books in the Virtual Library come from three of the Getty’s programs: the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Research Institute, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. The over 250 offered here today—and the many more we will continue to add into the future—represent a significant portion of our publishing list. Still, they are just a modest part of what is becoming an important, informally networked library, spread across multiple institutions and spanning thousands of years of art historical knowledge. Our virtual library proudly joins those already created by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, LACMA, and others. We hope you will explore and use them all. The books they hold are treasures meant for all, and now easier than ever for all to access and enjoy.

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  1. Chris Allen
    Posted January 21, 2014 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Amazing! Thank you for such a wonderful resource.

  2. Tim Reese
    Posted January 21, 2014 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    Fabulous idea. A wonderful way to expose people to an art education that they would never have the opportunity to experience in person.

  3. Sherrill
    Posted January 21, 2014 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    Yay! This is another fantastic opportunity. I was so excited to find European Drawings vol 1 on there! I have been checking for it every time I visit the Getty (I already have vols 2-4) on the off chance a copy would show up! I just downloaded it! I can see I will be spending lots of time between these two sites! Thank you!

  4. Allan Chan
    Posted January 23, 2014 at 3:19 am | Permalink

    Thank you very much for opening such an art resources to our art lover.

  5. Des Kilfeather
    Posted January 24, 2014 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    As an artist driven by research having access to such beautiful material is wonderful and helps develop my practice. But of much greater significance is making art freely accessible to those people in the world who would never be able to engage with it otherwise, due to health disadvantage, financial disadvantage, country of residence or cultural barriers. Congratulations!

  6. Bren Vignaroli
    Posted April 3, 2014 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    THIS is as awesome as it gets!! Thank you SO MUCH for this wonderful “gift”…an opportunity for all to enjoy!

  7. navaneethakrishnan
    Posted December 28, 2014 at 10:18 pm | Permalink


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      Gold snake bracelet, worn on the wrist

      Romano-Egyptian, 3rd - 2nd century B.C. 

      Source: The J. Paul Getty Museum

      In the Hellenistic period, gold made available by new territorial conquests flooded the Greek world. 

      Combined with social and economic changes that created a wealthy clientele with a taste for luxury, this availability led to an immense outpouring of gold jewelry to meet the demand.

      Here’s a closer view of the detailing of the cross-hatching.


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