BOSTON COLLEGE FINE ARTS DEPARTMENT VISUAL RESOURCES COLLECTION
Information for the BC Community
This page includes links to museums and libraries; collections of images collated by individuals or other entities; and search engines you can use to locate art images. Depending on image use policies, some or all of the images you find using the sites collections may be downloaded, for free academic use, at a size large enough for classroom projection. You may want to consult some of the resources on the copyright page to determine if your intended use complies with the site's or image's use guidelines.
The quality and sizes of the images you find on or using these sites will vary. If sites do not provide a "download" button, right-click (or, on a Mac, control-click) on the largest-available version of the image and select "save image as" from the pop-up menu. Images may be too small to project well if you try to enlarge them to fill an entire Powerpoint slide. Conversely, images may be very large and bog down your Powerpoint presentation, making it very slow to open and run, so you may want to reduce their dimensions. I'd recommend a minimum of about 1024 to 1280 pixels on the longest side; images to be displayed on newer, higher-resolution projectors will look even better with 1600 to 2000 pixels on their longest side. See How Can I Determine How Big My Image Is? and Image Editing & File Type Conversion.
Museums & Libraries
The Bibliotheque nationale de France makes images adequately large for classroom projection available for free non-commercial use through Gallica. To download a large image, click on "Télécharger/Imprimer," then click the JPEG button, the checkbox asking you to agree to the site's use terms and conditions, and the "Envoyer" button. In the next window, click on "cliquez ici" to get to the large image, which you can then download. Note that Gallica also includes images from collections other than the BnF; these images may be subject to different use restrictions.
The Brooklyn Museum. Large (1536 pixels on their longest side) downloadable images which made be freely used for noncommercial purposes with attribution to the Brooklyn Museum in accordance with the museum's copyright policy. The museum helpfully includes a rights statement, i.e., "No known copyright restrictions," with each image record.
The Getty Museum allows downloading of digital images of nearly 5000 works to which the Getty holds the rights or that are in the public domain through its Open Content Program. The images are very large — you'll probably want to make a smaller version for use in Powerpoint if you don't want to slow the program's operation (see Working with Digital Images).
The Library of Congress Digital Collections. Collections include prints and photographs, as well as images related to American history and culture. The Library's rights information notes that "rights assessment is your responsibility," but the Library provides a helpful guide for assessing rights, with links to specific information about many of the digital collections on its site. Many images may be downloaded as JPEGs at about 1024x768 pixels, or as very large TIFFs, which you will want to convert to JPEGs prior to inserting them in a Powerpoint presentation (see Image Editing & File Type Conversion).
NGA Images (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.) (open access policy). Excellent-quality images of public-domain works in the museum's collection can be easily downloaded at 1200 pixels on their longest side; you can download even larger images by creating an account. Something the government does right.
The New York Public Library Digital Gallery. Manuscripts, maps, posters, prints, photographs and more. As with the Library of Congress, the NYPL warns in its Terms and Conditions that "You are responsible for for obtaining necessary permissions." Images are downloadable as JPEGs at about 760 pixels on their longest side.
The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. You'll need to set up a free "Rijksstudio" account to download high-quality images up to 2500 pixels on their longest size. To download enlarged images, click on the scissors icon at the bottom right of the screen, select "download," and "personal use," which covers educational use.
The Tate (comprising the Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool and Tate St. Ives) allows downloading of images from its website "for limited circulation within an educational establishment." Right-click on the image in full-screen mode to download an image suitable for projection. Images vary a bit in size, but generally exceed 1536 pixels in height or 1100 pixels in width.
The V&A (Victoria & Albert Museum) (terms & conditions). Without an account, you can download images at about 768 pixels on the longest side. By registering (click on "log in" at the top right of the home page), you can also request larger, free, publication-quality versions of images; the process is a little clunky, but their email help is very cheery.
Federated Searching of Museum & Library Collections
Artsy makes available for download (at 1024 pixels on their longest side) over 25,000 public-domain images from its partners, which include leading galleries, museums, foundations, and artists' estates. Images that may be downloaded will have a "download" button at the right. Note that most of these images are from other sources (i.e., Wikimedia Commons or the National Gallery of Art) that may make the images available at a larger size on their own websites.
eMuseum offers unified searching of digital images available from over 50 museums, mostly in the U.S. (including some of those listed above, as well as some available through ARTstor; you may find larger versions of the images by accessing them through these non-eMuseum sites). Images from many regional institutions — the Worcester Art Museum, the Harvard University Art Museums, the Currier Museum and the Addison Gallery — are available through eMuseum.
The BBC's YourPaintings website aims to provide online access to digital images of the 200,000 oil paintings across the UK's national collections. These images may be used for non-commercial purposes as outlined in the UK's amended and revised "Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988," which makes allowances for educational use. To download the largest version available, be sure to click on the magnifying glass that appears when you mouse over the image.
Europeana is Europe's "culture portal" to the digitized content available from about 2000 institutions across Europe. The Europeana page for each object includes copyright information for that object as well as a link to the object's record on its holding institution's website, which is where you'll want to go to download the image.
Digital image collections & image search engines
The Artchive (see "Image Use" link at bottom right of homepage for that information). I try to avoid this site because of its annoying (and sometimes suspect) pop-ups.
Historic Illustrations of Art and Architecture. Drawings, plans, elevations, sections, etc. from out-of-copyright architecture and art texts, including Banister Fletcher's "A History of Architecture on the Comparative Method." Currently about 350 images; select the JPEG size you wish to download from the "Image Sizes" menu at the top. From the collection homepage: " Because these illustrations are now in the public domain under United States copyright law, they may be freely copied and used for any desired application."
Google images. On the search results page (thumbnails), click on "Search tools" at the top, and then "Size" from the sub-menu, to limit your results to large images. After selecting an image, click on the "visit page" link to see if copyright information or use terms are available.