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.
“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.
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.