Getty Museum Launches ‘Open Content Program,’ Shares 4,600 Images Free


When the words “Getty” and “Free” make their way into the same sentence — as they have a few times before — photographers tend to tense up before they read on. But when we say that the Getty Museum is sharing 4,600 images for free, there’s no need to fret.

In this case, Getty doesn’t refer to the stock photography company, but rather the J. Paul Getty Museum. And the museum’s newly launched Open Content Program looks to be a positive addition for all.

Called “an idea whose time has come” by president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust James Cuno (in reference to the famous Victor Hugo quote), the Open Content Program is the Getty Museum’s way of making their huge archive of Public Domain imagery available for download to one and all. Today, that means the first 4,600 pieces of imagery (500+ of which are photographs) are now downloadable.


A couple of famous examples we ran across include Walker Evans’ “A Bench in the Bronx on Sunday” (seen at the top), and John Reekie’s famous Civil War photo “A Burial Party” (seen below).

According to the announcement on the Getty blog, this is just the beginning. “We plan to release many more images of works of art in the public domain over time, both from the Museum’s collection and from the special collections of the Getty Research Institute,” writes Cuno. “We’re conducting a thorough review of copyright and privacy restrictions on our holdings to identify all the images we can make available.”

In answer to the natural question “Why now?” Cuno explains that Getty “was founded on the conviction that understanding art makes the world a better place, and sharing our digital resources is the natural extension of that belief.”

A Burial Party by photographer John Reekie taken during the Civil War is just one of the many famous photos you can download in high-res for free via the Open Content Program.

A Burial Party by photographer John Reekie is just one of the many famous photos you can download in high-res for free via the Open Content Program.

The images one downloads from the Open Content Program are completely free to use or share in whatever commercial or non-commercial manner you see fit. Getty is simply asking that you attribute the Program properly and take a second to tell them what you’re planning to do with the images after you download them.

To learn more, check out the announcement on the Getty blog. And if you’d like to browse through the collection yourself and maybe download some famous high-resolution imagery while you’re at it, head over to the Getty Search Gateway by clicking here.

(via Engadget)

Image credits: Photographs courtesy of the Getty Museum Open Content Program

  • Kyle Gray

    This is so cool of them to offer. Spent thirty minutes browsing all the photographs. Downloaded some and going to give them a “new life” and do some post processing. Amazes me how high quality some of those old photos are. I love the line “Art inspires us, and imagination and creativity lead to artistic expressions that expand knowledge and understanding.”.

  • Sid Ceaser

    There are some seriously awesome and important photos in there. I feel weird knowing I’m allowed to legally download them and make prints. But this is very very awesome. I just finished watching Ken Burns’ Civil War for the umpteenth time the other day, and being able to download high rez shots of Matthew Brady’s is crazy cool.

  • Jiří Růžek

    yes, that’s fantastic. sharing…