Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s new online collection website features 20,000 high-quality images for public access in a user-friendly database. The practice of opening up a collection this way is a fairly radical one, with museums and other institutions carefully guarding copyrighted works. The concept behind this initiative was to ask “Why would a museum give away images of its art?” and to answer with a public plea in mind: we need good quality images for education, both personal and institutional. And why not? The idea is that the desire for access far outweighs the threat of image misuse (of which none are found so far). As an experiment in open access, it will be interesting to see how other institutions follow suit.
Access the LACMA Collection on the Art & Architecture subject guide “Image Databases” page.