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Open Content, An Idea Whose Time Has Come

A New Commitment to Sharing the Getty’s Digital Resources Freely with All

The Getty announces its new Open Content Program

Today the Getty becomes an even more engaged digital citizen, one that shares its collections, research, and knowledge more openly than ever before. We’ve launched the Open Content Program to share, freely and without restriction, as many of the Getty’s digital resources as possible.

The initial focus of the Open Content Program is to make available all images of public domain artworks in the Getty’s collections. Today we’ve taken a first step toward this goal by making roughly 4,600 high-resolution images of the Museum’s collection free to use, modify, and publish for any purpose.

These are high-resolution, reproduction-quality images with embedded metadata, some over 100 megabytes in size. You can browse all available images here, or look for individual “download” links on the Getty Museum’s collection pages. As part of the download, we’ll ask for a very brief description of how you’re planning to use the image. We hope to learn that the images will serve a broad range of needs and projects.

We plan to release many more images of works of art in the public domain over time, both from the Museum’s collection and from the special collections of the Getty Research Institute. We’re conducting a thorough review of copyright and privacy restrictions on our holdings to identify all the images we can make available.

In a future step, we’ll look at additional content we can add to the Open Content Program—both other kinds of images, such as documentation from the Getty Conservation Institute’s field projects around the world, and knowledge resources, such as digital publications and the Getty Vocabularies.

Why open content? Why now? The Getty was founded on the conviction that understanding art makes the world a better place, and sharing our digital resources is the natural extension of that belief. This move is also an educational imperative. Artists, students, teachers, writers, and countless others rely on artwork images to learn, tell stories, exchange ideas, and feed their own creativity. In its discussion of open content, the most recent Horizon Report, Museum Edition stated that “it is now the mark—and social responsibility—of world-class institutions to develop and share free cultural and educational resources.” I agree wholeheartedly.

Forward-thinking organizations such as the Walters Art Museum, the National Gallery of Art, Yale University, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Harvard University have shown how powerful open access to collections and research can be. The Open Content Program represents a new commitment to digital openness in the Getty’s work. I look forward to adding more resources over the coming months and years—and even more, I look forward to seeing what open content will inspire you to create and share.

Questions about the new Open Content Program? See our Open Content FAQ, leave a comment here, or contact our web team at

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  1. Cynthia Guggemos
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    THANK YOU, merci beaucoup, mange tusen tak, gratzie, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

    • Christine Oots
      Posted August 31, 2013 at 6:34 am | Permalink

      Is this the Cynthia Guggemos from Cary-Grove High School? If so, “HI” from Christine Oots (nee Winters). Don’t you love open content from museums like this?! The Getty is one of the best!

  2. hugh glover
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    “Engaged digital citizen” I think only a close look at the object counts for meaningful.

    • J. Hindman
      Posted September 11, 2013 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      I respectfully disagree. I may never see these things in person, due to money and ill health. Yet, as a painter and jewelry maker, a lover of art and music, to see them at all, I can let that image inspire and fill my mind and appreciate it. Digital sharing means those in far flung corners of the world might see things they could not even imagine before. THAT is meaningful.

  3. Eduardo
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Yes bravo! More museums should be doing this. No ALL museums, please expand in the future.

  4. Jessamyn West
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for doing this, not just opening up parts of your collection but acknowledging that it’s the right thing for cultural stewards to be doing in this day and age.

  5. George Oates
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    A hearty congratulations! And hearty agreement with the title of your post :)

  6. JoAnn
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Thank you SO much-this is lovely. Now I can enjoy some of the beautiful art until I make my next visit to the Getty museums. Again, thank you!

  7. Jenny
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 1:33 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much for making your images available for everybody to enjoy and distribute

  8. Jonathan Gray
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 1:34 am | Permalink

    Congratulations! We’re delighted to see the Getty opening up its digital collections to the world.

    To make this really clear for users, have you considered marking the public domain images with the Creative Commons Public Domain Mark?

    • Annelisa Stephan
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      Hi Jonathan—

      Thanks for your comment and question—we greatly value input from the open content community and are delighted to see a contribution from a leader of the Open Knowledge Foundation. In developing the Open Content Program, we closely considered the Creative Commons licenses and Public Domain Tools ( But because of the diversity of materials we anticipate adding to the Open Content Program—including some already in the public domain and others currently protectable by copyright law in some countries—we opted not to select a single license or public domain mark for the program, but simply release them freely for any use. That said, we will definitely be considering ways to make our open content more easily searchable, identifiable, and usable as we move forward with the program.

      —Annelisa / Iris editor

      • Mark Galassi
        Posted August 22, 2013 at 8:49 am | Permalink

        Dear Annelisa,

        Thank you for your reply about licensing and the Creative Commons CC0.
        I have some concerns with this and with the FAQ at

        One concern is that you are unlikely to do better than CC0 in navigating the subtelties of public domain around the world.

        Another is that I don’t see a clear enumeration of the freedoms you allow. For example, do you allow redistribution of modified images for commercial purpose?

      • Jorge Cortell
        Posted September 4, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        First and foremost: THANK YOU.
        I do, however, agree with the rest of the commenters regarding the need for a legally clear and sound “license” beyond “free for all”. CC0 or Public Domain would be an excellent choice.
        Having said that, let me repeat: THANK YOU! :-)

  9. michelledevilliers
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    Wonderful. Now more people will be able to enjoy all the wonderful art out there.

  10. Fernando
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Excellent idea! Bravo and Thanks!

  11. Cathy
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    As a painter, it is so wonderful to look at works up close and see how the paint is laid down. The under colors and techniques used by the masters. I’m only 45 minutes from the museum, but this is almost better. Thank you so much for letting us get a truly close up view of your wonderful collection. Love it! Cathy Peterson

  12. Vanessa Blaylock
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    James Cuno, Annelisa Stephan, and everyone at The Getty, THANK YOU! I am thrilled and humbled by your bold vision and cultural leadership here in the 21st century. I can only guess at the hand wringing and enormous technical details a major cultural institution faces when considering opening their treasured holdings freely to the world. I’m grateful that you’ve managed to navigate all that and make this wonderful gift to the people of planet earth. I wrote about The Open Content Program today:

  13. Clark Chang
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    謝謝! thank you! For people may not have chance to visit such place.

  14. Kimberly Ayers
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for this! I already purchased an image from you some years ago for private use: you have my favorite painting:-) Just the joy of being able to peruse your collection is wonderful news. Don’t worry, I will still come to both Gettys and bring my friends and family. Thank you / merci / shukran:-)

  15. Mir
    Posted August 14, 2013 at 2:50 am | Permalink

    Thanks so much! As a very small publisher of textbooks with rather limited sources, this will definitely enrich future textbooks – and of course the students who use them.

  16. Andrew Lewis
    Posted August 14, 2013 at 2:56 am | Permalink

    This is great!

    As you are asking for suggestions, I’d be very interested in controlled vocabularies being available as an open API. This would open all sorts of development opportunities to join up data from multiple Museums by making data standards easier to synchronise accross multiple organsations (as well as being much more efficient for your distribution)

    • Annelisa Stephan
      Posted August 14, 2013 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      Hi Andrew, Thank you! Have you seen the Getty Research Institute’s plans to release the vocabularies as LOD (linked open data)? Here are the details. Let us know if this isn’t what you were looking for! —Annelisa / Iris editor

  17. Mattia
    Posted August 14, 2013 at 5:01 am | Permalink

    Why not donating this images to wikipedia commons? :)

    • Annelisa Stephan
      Posted August 14, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      Hi Mattia, Thanks for the good suggestion! We’re actively considering other distribution options to increase access to our open content images—we’ll let you know if and when we do this.

  18. Kala
    Posted August 14, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    So Beautiful! Thank you for paying it forward and sharing with everyone, Fantastico!

  19. Grover Zinn
    Posted August 14, 2013 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Congratulations to the Getty for a bold forward step in this digital age—a bold step that is also logical. I treasure visits to the Getty each time we visit family in Encino—both to visit the collection and to enjoy the beautiful gardens and architecture. As a medievalist who works with both texts and images, I have been delighted to be able to view objects at the museum. Now I will be able to “see” them from a distance and share with colleagues. Many Many thanks!

  20. Patricia Hunter
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 2:31 am | Permalink

    A huge thumbs up to all the staff who made it possible to view this fabulous collection. I am no longer able to visit galleries and rely on technology to give me the visual pleasure of viewing art. Thank you a thousand times.

  21. Christopher Thomas
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    The Getty is one of my favorite Institutions, that I frequently visited as an art student while attending Art Center College of design in Pasadena, CA. Thank you for making the Getty collection of images available to the greater public outside of Los Angeles. It’s like seeing old friends again. Bravo!

  22. Mia
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Permalink


  23. Deise Lemos
    Posted August 15, 2013 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Bela iniciativa!

  24. Diane
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Thank you Getty Museum, global friend .

  25. Mark DAntoni
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Getty! This is a terrific thing you’re doing. A great resource. Do more!

  26. Chidanand
    Posted August 17, 2013 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    Thanks to you for your broad mind. You are doing a wonderful thing by sharing your collections digitally, which I hope the world will use it judiciously and creatively.

  27. Brewster Kahle
    Posted August 17, 2013 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    And it gets even better! The Getty has been paying do digitize great art books and putting them up on the Internet with no restrictions: Books!. Thank you from the Internet Archive and all the readers of these fabulous books.

    One of my fav’s is this version of Euclid

    • Annelisa Stephan
      Posted August 19, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      Hi Brewster—Yes! So glad you mentioned this. The Research Institute has 11,140 digitized books on the Internet Archive (and counting), and will continue to add more. —Annelisa / Iris editor

  28. simon woo
    Posted August 18, 2013 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    Many Thanks.
    Share and enjoy these images is my hounour.

  29. Sheogorath
    Posted August 21, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    OMG, I think I’ve just witnessed a miracle! An American organisation that seems to not believe copyright is more important than culture. The fact it’s in California just makes it that much more amazing!

  30. bowerbird
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    awesome. great news.


    Posted August 28, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Great site. Thank you for this big effort. It’s a real delight to the eyes.

  32. Aldo Panzieri
    Posted August 29, 2013 at 2:51 am | Permalink

    I think this is a great idea! So much art is restricted and kept from being seen by most of the public. I look forward to having a Weston, or Mathew Brady, or Edward Steichen picture next to my computer to enjoy, and to send to my friends who are interested in the kinds of art I enjoy.

    I hope after I’m gone my photographs will be part of the Getty collection because I know I will be able to rest easy knowing that they will be taken care of. Right now, the only part of my work that is protected in an archive are my pictures of Vietnam that are now a permanent show on the //library of Congress web site called Remembering War. With my name added to it.

    Sincerely yours,

    Aldo S. Panzieri

  33. Dean L
    Posted August 29, 2013 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    Hi Getty Team!
    Thank you for making art accessible to all. I’ve been playing with some fun ways to let people browse the collection. Here’s what I’ve been working on:
    I plan to add sorting and filtering to it if there is any interest. It’s currently sorted by most recent at the top. I also have a simple logic that figures out a rough year of each piece’s sortable date (as some pieces are dated “12th century”)

    Since there are over 4000 pieces, I only load 20 at a time as you scroll down the page. I don’t think there is a practical way right now to get to the very end (my own browser became really really slow when trying to show just 1000 items!)

    Thanks again for your generosity!

    • Posted August 30, 2013 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      This is pretty exciting to see, Dean! Thank you! It’s even visually interesting to see the correlation to the left and right of our famous works. This brings context, beauty and deeper looking to our collection.

      Many thanks,
      Social Media Coordinator

  34. Robert
    Posted August 30, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much. What a wonderful resource.

  35. Naomi Parker
    Posted September 2, 2013 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    I will never get to America, let alone the Getty museums, so from the UK here is a big THANKYOU.

  36. Marko
    Posted September 7, 2013 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    Good day! I simply want to give an enormous thumbs up for the great info you

  37. Francis Dougherty
    Posted September 10, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Awesome! Need for a picture narrative while i intern at a magazine based in Hudson. Thanks!

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