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Egyptian, Fragmentary Head of a Queen, 1352-1356 B.C.E. Image provided by The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Egyptian, Fragmentary Head of a Queen, 1352-1356 B.C.E. Image provided by The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Today’s Open Access initiative by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and their generous partnership with Artstor help ensure that these images will reach scholarly audiences in more than 1,700 institutions worldwide. Nancy Minty, Artstor’s Collections Editor, explores some of the Met’s history, the materials in the release, and its implications for future study.

In 1872, the Metropolitan Museum opened its doors in a brownstone on Fifth Ave., which housed its nascent permanent collection of 175 paintings. The New York Evening Mail heralded the moment as the birth of the “royal infant,” and one of the founders William Cullen Bryant struck a redemptive tone in his opening address: “My friends, it is important that we should encounter the temptations to vice in this great and too rapidly growing capital by attractive entertainment of an innocent and improving nature.”1 Salomon van Ruysdael’s Drawing the Eel, 1650s, still a standout from the inaugural collection, typifies the folksy, wholesome imagery that bolstered Bryant’s mission.

Today, nearly 150 years later, The Met is among leaders worldwide with an encyclopedic collection that numbers more than 2 million objects, spanning 17 diverse curatorial departments and 5000 years, from antiquities to photography, and including masterworks in all fields. Its range may be documented by countless juxtapositions of outstanding works from diverse cultures, as for example, an ivory handle from ancient Egypt, Prancing Horse, ca. 1391-1353 B.C.E., an engraving by the German Renaissance artist Dürer, The Little Horse, 1505. and a monumental painting by Rosa Bonheur, The Horse Fair, 1853-55, each depicting horses, albeit of very different stripes.

The museum building itself has accrued around 20 successive structures or wings to the nucleus designed by Calvert Vaux in 1880, and it currently occupies more than two million square feet, equal to about 35 football fields (not including Breuer and Cloisters locations). Moreover, in 2016 it welcomed 6.7 million visitors.

Now in an unprecedented step among major American museums, The Met has made a major new foray into the global virtual space by sharing open content for 375,000 images of public domain works in the collection. ITHAKA and Artstor are proud to cooperate in this initiative along with Creative Commons and the Wikimedia Foundation. The implications of this move are significant. As Loic Tallon, the museum’s Chief Digital Officer has framed it “In our digital age, the Museum’s audience is not only the 6.7 million people who visited The Met’s three locations in New York City this past year but also the 3.2 billion internet-connected individuals around the world.”

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Anish Kapoor; Untitled; 2012; Exhibited at Gladstone Gallery, Spring 2012. © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / DACS, London.

Anish Kapoor; Untitled; 2012; Exhibited at Gladstone Gallery, Spring 2012. © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / DACS, London.

Artstor and Larry Qualls have released approximately 32,000 images of contemporary art exhibited in the New York area in the past three decades. This release joins the more than 100,000 images already available in the Larry Qualls Archive, making it our largest survey of contemporary art, and completes the collection in the Digital Library.

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Artstor, the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP), and the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library are now sharing an additional 10,000 images of architectural plans and sections and related materials in the Digital Library.

The collection, now totaling nearly 20,000 images, is based on GSAPP’s History of Modern Architecture curriculum and covers the history of modern buildings, focusing primarily on the 20th-century, with a few earlier and later projects spanning from 1871 to 2013. Containing over 2,000 projects from 60 countries, the bulk of the collection is comprised of built works, but also includes studies and unbuilt works. This second phase notably includes 100 projects by the master architect Le Corbusier, 100 projects in South America, and over 125 in Japan. The result of this collaboration is a rich body of visual material and related scholarship, available online for the first time.

The Avery/GSAPP Plans & Sections collection involved the efforts of Avery librarians and staff, GSAPP VRC curators, and more than 25 GSAPP students working together across many of the GSAPP programs — including M.Arch, Historic Preservation, Urban Design and Urban Planning – and contributing their diverse language, imaging and technology skills and their deep interest in the history of architecture.

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Brice Marden; The Seasons; 1974-1975. Image and original data provided by The Menil Collection, Houston; © 2014 Brice Marden / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Brice Marden; The Seasons; 1974-1975. Image and original data provided by The Menil Collection, Houston; © 2014 Brice Marden / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Artstor and the Menil Foundation have just released nearly 200 images of highlights from the Menil Collection in the Digital Library.

The Menil Collection opened to the public in June 1987 to house, exhibit, and preserve the art collection of John and Dominique de Menil. Assembled over the course of many decades by the Houston philanthropists, the collection is recognized not only for its quality and depth but also for its distinctive presentation and eclecticism. An actively collecting institution, the Menil Collection contains diverse holdings representing many world cultures and thousands of years of human creativity, from prehistoric times to the present. Today, the collection comprises over 16,000 objects. (more…)

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Artstor is sharing two new collections of photographs by Barbara J. Anello: graffiti in Lower Manhattan in the 1980s and 90s, and Tibetan Buddhist art and architecture in Ladakh, India.

The photographs from Ladakh were exhibited at the Overseas Press Club in New York City and Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio in 1982. (more…)

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Katsushika Hokusai, Under Mannen Bridge at Fukagawa, 1830-1831. Image and original data contributed by Hofstra University Museum

Artstor and the Hofstra University Museum have released approximately 200 images from the Museum’s permanent collection in the Digital Library.

Integral to the academic mission of Hofstra University, the Hofstra University Museum advances knowledge and understanding through experiences with authentic works of art from the world’s diverse cultures. The Museum’s mission is achieved through collection acquisition and preservation, exhibitions, and interpretive resources. (more…)

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Melvin Edwards; Inside Out; 2008. © Lafayette College; © Melvin E. Edwards; © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Artstor and Lafayette College have released more than 500 images in the Digital Library from the Experimental Printmaking Institute.

The Experimental Printmaking Institute (EPI) at Lafayette College is a unique printmaking laboratory that enables students to work hand in hand with professional artists using traditional techniques in concert with experimental approaches. For almost 20 years, EPI has produced editions by artists such as Faith Ringgold, Richard Anuszkiewicz, David Driskell, Grace Hartigan, and Sam Gilliam. The results of these collaborations are included in the permanent collections of many important museums, colleges, and universities. EPI partnered with Lafayette College’s Digital Scholarship Services (DSS) department to digitize and catalog its collection. (more…)

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