Design Library: Additional Image Resources with Zero or Few Copyright Restrictions
This list contains online resources for images with few copyright restrictions. Some are in the public domain, which means they are not copyrighted and can be freely used for commercial, personal or educational purposes. Other images may only be used for educational reasons. Many of those restricted to educational use only have Creative Commons licenses that clearly outline what you may or may do with the content. It is up to you to locate the copyright information for every image and read the policies for each of these resources. Remember to always cite the source of an image using your preferred citation style.
The resources on this list contain images on a broad array of topics, including art, architecture, landscape architecture, graphic design, industrial design, fashion, decorative arts, cities, maps, engineering, history, religion, medicine, natural sciences, and much more. There are also several sites with free stock photography.
If you have any questions regarding copyright and image use, please contact Barbara Brenny, the Visual Resources Librarian or William Cross, the Director of the Copyright and Digital Scholarship Center.
Ancient World Image Bank – Images from the Institute of for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University made available through Flickr.
Artsy – More than 25,000 images of Art and Architecture are in the public domain and downloadable. Look for images with a “Download Image” button. Those without the button have copyright restrictions.
Bigfoto -Offers broad selection of photographs from around the world, including America, Asia, Europe, Africa, and Pacific. All images are freely available without copyright restrictions.
British Library Commons on Flickr - Over 1,000,000 images from the library's digitized books from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries are in the public domain may be freely used without any copyright restrictions.
British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts – Western illuminated manuscripts, along with their complete catalog records may be freely downloaded.
British Museum Online Collection – More than 800,000 medium-sized digital are available to download exclusively for educational and personal use. High resolution may be licensed free of charge for non-commercial use, with certain restrictions regarding academic publication.
Brooklyn Museum Online Collection – Contains over 40,000 images of art. A number of them are available in high-resolution and are copyright free, while others have some restrictions via a Creative Commons license. See the rights statement for each individual image. Advanced search allows users to look only for images with no known copyright or those with Creative Commons licenses.
Calisphere – A database of images, including architecture, art, historical photographs, etc. related to the history and culture of California. Images may be used freely for educational purposes only.
Chartres: Cathedral of Notre-Dame – Images may be used freely for educational purposes only.
Colonial Copyright Collection of Canadian Photographs at the British Library – Available through Wikimedia Commons.
Creative Commons on Flickr – Users can search according to Creative Commons license type. Many are freely available for download. Rights vary depending on the photographer.
Creative Commons Images with Bing Image Search – The results of a basic image can be filtered by Creative Commons license type by clicking on License.
Creative Commons Images with Google Image Search – Users can filter the results of a basic image research by Creative Commons license type by clicking on Search Tools or by selecting desired usage rights in Advanced Image Search.
Currier Museum of Art Collections – Images of American and European Art that are freely available for educational and non-commercial use only.
Digital Imaging Project: Art Historical Images of Sculpture and Architecture by Mary Ann Sullivan, Bluffton University – Images may be used for personal and educational use free of charge.
Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture – Images and digitized books with a focus on early America. Content may be used freely for educational purposes only.
Digital Scriptorium- Images of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts from a number of institutions. May be used freely for educational purposes only.
Five Colleges and Historic Deerfield Museum Consortium Collection – Art images freely available for educational purposes only.
Europeana Fashion Portal – Includes more 700,000 fashion-related digital objects from leading European Institutions, ranging from historical dresses to accessories, photographs, poster, drawings, videos, and catalogs. Some of medium-resolution images may be freely used for educational purposes. See the rights information for the type of Creative Commons license for each image.
Foto.com- Over 200,000,000 stock photographs can be searched and sorted according to Creative Commons license.
French Revolution Digital Archive – Images freely available for non-commercial use.
From Old Books – Over 3,500 high-resolution images of pictures, engravings, and extracts scanned from old rare antique and vintage books. Medium-resolution images are can downloaded and used freely without copyright restrictions.
Getty Museum Open Content Program – High resolution images from the Getty that are in public domain.
Google Art Project – Images from art museums across the world. For educational use only. Resolutions and rights vary by source.
Historic Illustrations of Art and Architecture – Images in the public domain that may be downloaded free of charge. A good resource for architectural plans and drawings.
Image*After - A large online photograph collection, including art, architecture, industrial design, and textures. All images can be downloaded and used freely with copyright restrictions.
Images for Academic Publishing (IAP) – ARTstor provides scholars free high quality images for academic publications. Users without access to ARTstor may also request access to the IAP collection.
Imperial War Museum, London – images primarily focused on Britain and the Commonwealth, from World War I to the present. Many images may be downloaded and used for educational purposes only. The rights must be checked for each individual image.
Index of Christian Art Additional Resources – Images of Byzantine and Medieval art may be downloaded and used for educational purposes only. Some high resolution images are freely available for download and publication.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog – This collection include photographs, fine and popular prints, drawings, posters, and architectural and engineering drawings. While international in scope, the focus is on materials produced in the United States and content documenting its history. High-resolution images are available to download and the vast majority are copyright free. See the rights advisory for each individual image.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art - has about 20,000 high-res digital downloads of images in the public domain for any use. Free images contain a link that says “Download Image.”
Metropolitan Museum of Art – The Met offers public domain images freely available for scholarly purposes, under the section Open Access for Scholarly Content icon (OASC).
Museum of New Zeland Te Papa Tongarewa – Over 30,000 images of art, design, photography, history, natural sciences, and Pacific cultures are freely available to download, either under a Creative Commons license or under no restrictions at all (depends on the image).
National Gallery of Art in Washington DC – More than 20,000 images are freely available for scholarly and commercial use.
National Portrait Gallery, London – Over 53,000 low resolution images are freely available for non-commercial use though a Creative Commons license and more the 87,000 high resolution images are free to download for academic use the Gallery’s own license.
National Trust – Offers free low resolution downloads of prints, painting, and photographs related to historic gardens and estates in the UK that are under the National Trust’s care.
Netherland Institute in Istanbul Machiel Kiel Photographic Archive – Images mainly of Ottoman architecture in Balkans may be used freely in publications, if proper credit is given. Higher resolution images may be obtained by writing the archive.
New York Public Library Digital Gallery – Over 80,000 low resolution digital public domain and copyright protected images are freely available for personal, educational, or research purposes. Users are responsible for clearing the necessary rights when using an image in a research paper.
New York Public Library Digital Collections: Map Division – More than 20,000 low resolution public domain images of historical maps are freely available for personal, educational, or research purposes. Users are responsible for clearing the necessary rights when using an image in a research paper.
OpenGlam Open Collections – A compilation of openly licensed image collections from several cultural institutions. All of those listed contain images that can be freely used without restriction.
Open Photo – A wide vary of stock photography with Creative Commons licenses, including high quality nature, technology and architectural images.
Photo Roma – A collection of over 6,000 images of Italian cities free to use for non-commercial purposes.
Pitts Theology Library Digital Image Archive – Over 50,000 digital images of biblical illustrations, portraits of religious leaders, printers’ devices, engravings of church buildings, and other topics are freely non-commercial purposes.
Rijksmuseum – Over 150,000 high-resolution digital images of a wide range of art work may be freely downloaded for non-commercial use.
Robert Rauschenberg Research Project – High resolution digital images of the artist’s works in the SFMOMA collection may be downloaded for educational use. Licensing fees and permissions are needed for publication and reproduction.
Rotman Collection Vintage Stereographs of India – A Smith College collection of digital stereoscopic images of India taken between 1819 and 1900.
Shorpy – A blog about historic photographs with high resolution images. Selected smaller sized may be freely downloaded for non-commercial use.
Smith College Historic Costume Collection – Over 1,000 digital images of women’s clothing and accessories in the United States from 1800 to the present. May be freely downloaded and used for educational purposes.
Smithsonian Institution Collections Online – Over 1,200,000 images from all of the Smithsonian’s collections on topics like art, design, history, culture, zoology, gardens, and the sciences may be freely downloaded and used for educational purposes.
Susan H. Douglas Collection of Political Americana – Images of American campaign memorabilia from 1789 to 1960. May be used freely for educational purposes only.
Teach the Web, Using Museum Images – Open and Closed – A blog about museums that offer images with varying degrees of rights attached. Many are freely available. See the individual record for each image located the copyright information.
Victoria & Albert Museum Online Collection – Many of the approximately 400,000 images can be downloaded at a high resolution and used for strictly for personal and educational purposes. There are certain limitations regarding academic publishing.
Walters Art Museum Images on Wikimedia Commons – More than 19,000 from the museum collections are freely available to download with unrestricted use.
Walters Art Museum, New Eyes on American Art – Over 600 images of American art from the museum are freely available to download with unrestricted use.
Wellcome Images – This collection of over 40,000 images, with themes ranging from medical and social history to contemporary healthcare and biomedical science, contains manuscript illustrations, photographs, paintings, prints, and drawings. All low-resolution images are freely available for personal and academic use, under Creative Commons licenses. High-resolution images are available, if appropriate credit is given.
Wellesley College Digital Images Collections Wiki – A resource of free and fair-use image collections available to download for personal and educational purposes. All links are to images from other websites, so the size and quality will vary. It is the user’s responsibility to make sure image use conforms to the policies of the specific website.
Wikimedia Commons – An aggregate of a number of institutions' freely available content. Licensing varies according to the rights owner.
Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library – Images of a broad range of works from around the global may be downloaded and used for educational purposes. Contact the museum for further licensing and rights information.
WorldImages – Over 100,000 low resolution images may be downloaded and used for educational purposes, if credit is given to the copyright holder. Larger sized images may be licensed.
Yale Digital Content – This collection has more than 250,000 images related to art, natural history, maps, and books. Many are freely available to download for educational purposes. See the copyright information on the website.
Yorck Project on Wikimedia – A collection of art images in the public domain available for free download.