New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, last in TeleRead for one excellent freebie initiative where it put its past publications up for free download online, has just launched an even more attractive initiative. Under the Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC) initiative, the Met will offer “more than 400,000 high-resolution digital images of public domain works in the Museum’s world-renowned collection” for free download – not just by scholars but by private users for all non-commercial applications.
According to the Met’s announcement, the institution will provide “access to images of art in its collection that the Museum believes to be in the public domain and free of other known restrictions; these images are now available for scholarly use in any media.”
“Through this new, open-access policy, we join a growing number of museums that provide free access to images of art in the public domain,” said Thomas P. Campbell, the Met’s Director and CEO. “I am delighted that digital technology can open the doors to this trove of images from our encyclopedic collection.” The Met has also committed to expand the collection in time.
It’s interesting to see the Met apparently aligning itself with the scholarly open access movement in other areas of academia, though of course the issues are very different in the sciences. In this it joins the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, and a growing number of other collections worldwide. The Met is forgoing an income stream from fees for images, as well as control over its resources via permissions, through this initiative, but it looks to be a stand on principle that does credit to it and provides a benefit to all.