Georges Seurat," A Sunday on La Grande Jatte" (1884), oil on canvas, 81 3/4 x 121 1/4 inches (image courtesy Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection)

Georges Seurat,” A Sunday on La Grande Jatte — 1884″ (1884–8), oil on canvas, 81 3/4 x 121 1/4 inches (image courtesy Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection)

The Art Institute of Chicago has opened up much of its digital archive to the public. Now, website users have unrestricted access to thousands of images — exactly 44,313, with more to be added — under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license.

This move is part of the museum’s website redesign. What this means, according to the Art Institute, is that these images can be downloaded for free on the artwork’s pages. In addition, the Institute has also enhanced image viewing capabilities on object pages, allowing viewers to see the works in greater detail.

Vincent van Gogh, “The Bedroom” (1888), oil on canvas, 29 x 36 5/8 inches (image courtesy Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection)

“Check out the paint strokes in Van Gogh’s ‘The Bedroom,’” the Art Institute writes on its website, “the charcoal details on Charles White’s ‘Harvest Talk,’ or the synaesthetic richness of Georgia O’Keeffe’s ‘Blue and Green Music.’”

The website also boasts that this redesign will make work easier for researchers and art scholars as they use the collections search tool to find exactly what they’re looking for.

Samuel J. Miller, “Frederick Douglass” (1847–52), daguerreotype, plate: 5 1/2 × 4 1/8 inches, mat opening: 4 3/4 × 3 1/2 inches, plate in closed case: 6 × 4 3/4 × 1/2 inches, plate in open case: 6 × 9 1/2 × 3/4 inches (image courtesy Major Acquisitions Centennial Endowment)

This move is not unprecedented. According to Artnet News, the Metropolitan Museum of Art also made all of the public domain works in its collection available online back in February 2017. As a result, the Met’s website saw a 64% increase in image downloads and a 17% traffic spike to the online collection. In addition, users who downloaded images spent five times as long on the site.

Ancient Egyptian, “Stela (Commemorative Stone) of Amenemhat and Hemet” (1956 BCE–1877 BCE), limestone and pigment, 12 1/4 × 16 3/8 × 2 5/8 inches (image courtesy Museum Purchase Fund)

Claude Monet, “The Beach at Sainte-Adresse” (1867), oil on canvas, 29 13/16 x 40 5/16 inches (image courtesy Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection)

Rosalba Carriera, “A Young Lady with a Parrot” (1725–35), pastel on blue laid paper, mounted on laminated paper board, 600 x 500 mm (image courtesy The Regenstein Collection)

Piet Mondrian, “Lozenge Composition with Yellow, Black, Blue, Red, and Gray” (1921), oil on canvas, 60 x 60 cm (image gift of Edgar Kaufmann, Jr.)

Edvard Munch, “The Girl by the Window” (1893), oil on canvas, 38 × 25 3/4 inches (image courtesy Searle Family Trust and Goldabelle McComb Finn endowments; Charles H. and Mary F.S. Worcester Collection)

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Deena ElGenaidi

Deena ElGenaidi is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Rutgers University-Camden in 2016, and her work has appeared in Longreads, Electric Literature,...