Finally admitting that the existence of technology, social media, and open source/open access is a fact of life rather than some conceptual interactive piece in a contemporary art exhibition, some museums are beginning to let go of some of their control issues. Many are beginning to loosen their visitor photography policies and a few are starting to make images of their collections available online, through sites such as Google Art Project.
On Monday, the J. Paul Getty Museum has launched its Open Content Program, making more than 4,600 high-res images available for free and open to the public. Users browse through the entire collection of images to use, modify, and publish for any purpose, as long as they’re properly attributed to the museum. Previously, the Getty, like most museums, made images available upon request, for a fee, and with certain restrictions.
Citing a few other organizations that have similar programs as inspirational, James Cuno, president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, says that they plan to add many more images over time. “The Getty was founded on the conviction that understanding art makes the world a better place,” says Cuno, “and sharing our digital resources is the natural extension of that belief.”