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Many museums, galleries, and other cultural institutions include digital collections on their websites. Even though these images are free to view online, you should always assume they are protected by copyright. Be sure to cite them appropriately, and ask permission to use them if necessary. Or, you can provide a link to the image instead of copying it directly into your paper or presentation.
Duke University's image database of over 7,000 advertisements printed in U.S. and Canadian newspapers and magazines between 1911 and 1955.
American Museum of Photography
Provides access to online exhibitions dated back to 100 years ago.
An Internet search engine for art where you can search by name of artist, title of artwork, art museums or browse by art movements.
Atlas: Database of Exhibits
Atlas provides online access to 35,000 works of art exhibited in the Louvre, including the basic information displayed on labels accompanying works in the museum, and authoritative commentary and analysis by the curators.
British Museum Collection Database
Over one million digital images of objects in the collection of the British Museum
Images of the Getty Museum's collections. Thousands of images of artworks are available for download, without charge, under the Getty's Open Content Program. Look for the Download button under the image.
Smithsonian Photograph Archives
Smithsonian American Art Museum Photography Collection
Library of Congress--Prints and Photographs Online Catalogue
Provides access to approximately 1.2 million images of works in the collection of the Library of Congress.
National Gallery of Art Images
NGA Images is a repository of digital images of the collections of the National Gallery of Art. On this website you can search, browse, share, and download images. More than 20,000 open access digital images and up to 3000 pixels each are available free of charge for download and use.
Library Databases for images
Saskia This link opens in a new window
A collection of 30,000 digital images of paintings, sculpture and architecture, including images from many important collections: the Prado, the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Uffizi, and the Louvre as well as archaeological sites in Greece, Italy, Turkey and Egypt.
CARLI Digital Collections This link opens in a new window
CARLI Digital Collections is a growing image and special collections research resource for faculty, staff, students, and the public. By combining digital collections from a number of CARLI member institutions into a seamless environment, researchers are guaranteed richer search results on a variety of topics.
Public domain and Creative Commons
What is public domain?
A work is in the public domain if no copyright restrictions apply to it. This usually happens when the term of copyright has expired. Most documents created in Canada, including photographs, enter the public domain fifty years after the death of the author. For detailed information on public domain in Canada, visit UBC's Copyright Guide.
Remember, the vast majority of works you will find online are protected by copyright. If you aren't sure if a work is in the public domain, assume that it isn't.
What are Creative Commons licences?
A creator of a photograph, video, piece of writing, or other work can choose to apply a Creative Commons licence. This means that they have chosen to open their work to greater use than that typically allowed by copyright. Visit the Creative Commons site to learn more about the types of licences authors may use.
Remember, you need to attribute CC-licenced works to their creators.
Resources for copyright-free images
Wikimedia Commons is a repository of digital media, including images, video, and audio. Much of the content is in the public domain or has been uploaded under a Creative Commons licence. Be sure to view the terms of any applicable licence before you use the image.
This search service helps you quickly find those authors and the work they have marked as free to use with only "some rights reserved." If you respect the rights they have reserved (which will be clearly marked, as you'll see) then you can use the work without having to contact them and ask. In some cases, you may even find work in the public domain -- that is, free for any use with "no rights reserved."