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Research Guides

Finding and Using Images: Online Resources


Indianapolis Art Museum, 2013. Photo: Laura Gricius-West

Reverse Image Search

Image Gateways

There are a variety of places that you can choose to download pictures. Online image gateways are often the easiest, though you can also choose some search engines to help you find the perfect image that you are seeking.

Specialized Image Resources

  • Digital Scriptorium is an image database for 5,300 manuscripts and for 24,300 images of medieval and renaissance manuscripts, intended to unite scattered resources from many institutions into an international tool for teaching and scholarly research.
  • SPIRO (Slide and Photograph Image Retrieval Online) is the visual online public access catalog to the 35mm slide collection of the Architecture Visual Resources Library (AVRL) at the University of California at Berkeley. The collection numbers over 250,000 slides and 20,000 photographs.

List of Free Digital Images for Educational (Non-Commercial) Purposes

The following list is compiled from responses to a request for names of websites that offer free digital images to be used for educational (non-commercial) purposes. **Read the fine print to make sure the image is indeed “free” ... the fine print on museum sites often state that there are qualifications. Even Creative Commons licenses depend on the uploader having copyright ownership.   

  • Art Images for College Teaching is intended primarily to disseminate images of art and architectural works in the public domain on a free-access, free-use basis to all levels of the educational community, as well as to the public at large. Emphasis is on ancient, medieval, and Renaissance European art and architecture.
  • Art Institute of Chicago Ryerson and Burnham Libraries.  A great resource for digital images, especially in architecture of the 18th through 20th centuries and 19th century painting, prints, drawings, and decorative arts.
  • The British Museum.  Free Non-Commercial Use Images.
  • Getty Open Content ProgramHigh resolution images of works from the Getty Museum and Getty Research Institute that are in the public domain and may be used freely. The Getty Research Institute recently added 5,400 images to the Open Content Program.
  • LACMA has about 20,000 high-res digital downloads for any use.
  • NGA Images (National Gallery of Art in Washington DC) offers high-res downloads for non-commercial use.
  • The Rijksmuseum offers high-res digital downloads free for non-commercial use.
  • UCLA (Image Resource Guide)List of open web image sources.
  • The Walters Art  Museum
  • World Images provides access to the California State University IMAGE Project. It contains over 100,000 images, is global in coverage and includes all areas of visual imagery.
  • Yale Digital Collections Search across all of Yale's digital content from one simple and easy search interface. Content includes, art, natural history, books, maps, and photographs documenting a variety of people, places, and events.


Image Resources on the Web

The U.S. National Archives on Flickr
The U.S. National Archives was established in 1934 by President Franklin Roosevelt, but its major holdings date back to 1775. The National Archives keeps only those Federal records that are judged to have continuing value -- about 2 to 5 percent of those generated in any given year. By now, they add up to a formidable number, diverse in form as well as in content. In addition to the photographs and graphic images described above, there are approximately 9 billion pages of textual records; 7.2 million maps, charts, and architectural drawings; billions of machine-readable data sets; and more than 365,000 reels of film and 110,000 videotapes. All of these materials are preserved because they are important to the workings of Government, have long-term research worth, or provide information of value to citizens. These photographs, most taken by agents of Federal agencies over the years, cover a wide range of subjects and themes documented in the work of the United States government. Higher resolution versions of many of these images can be obtained from the U.S. National Archives by following the links located below each image.

OAIster is a catalog of digital archival resources that are housed at cultural and higher education institutions throughout the United States. OAIster works in a similar fashion to a library catalog. To limit your search to images, enter in your keyword(s) and select "image" from the list of resource type limiters.