The Smithsonian Institution publishes 2.8 million high-resolution images from its extensive collection and publishes them online so that everyone can use and download them for free. The open access online platform will include 2D and 3D images from 19 museums, nine research centers, archives, libraries and the National Zoo, reports Smithsonian Magazine.
"Being a relevant source for people who learn from around the world is key to our mission," said Effie Kapsalis, Smithsonian's senior digital program officer. "We cannot imagine what people will do with the collections. We are ready to be surprised."
A quick scan of the Smithsonian access platform gives users a glimpse of what's in the huge collection of some of the world's greatest works, including a portrait of Degas by Mary Cassatt, a picture of a Roman glass bottle dating from 200 BC Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington, portraits of Pocahontas and Ida B. Wells, and pictures of Muhammad Ali's boxing gear and Amelia Earhart's flight suit.
Over the next few months, the Smithsonian will add another 200,000 images to the access platform and further digitize its extensive database of more than 155 million elements.
Portrait of Ida B. Wells.
Digitized by Mark Gulezian / National Portrait Gallery / Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian is the latest organization to make its collection of images publicly available. The Art Institute of Chicago, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the New York Public Library have made thousands of images publicly available in recent years. Even the media company Getty Images made most of its photo collection available free of charge, opening up a potential new source of income for its embedded images.
However, Smithsonian's publication of the collection of images is "unprecedented," Simon Tanner, digital heritage expert at King & # 39; s College London, who advised the open access initiative, told Smithsonian Magazine. "It opens up a much broader spectrum of content that connects science and culture, space and time in a way that no other collection out there has, or possibly could, do."
The Smithsonian hopes to open up the museums to a new audience by improving access to its images. The collection is listed under a Creative Commons Zero license, so there are no restrictions on republishing.