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NGA Images Database launches (with Open Access Policy)

Yesterday, our National Gallery of Art made the following generous announcement that will be of interest to teachers and learners across the disciplines.

The National Gallery of Art announces the launch today of NGA Images, a new online resource that revolutionizes the way the public may interact with its world-class collection at This repository of digital images documenting the National Gallery of Art collections allows users to search, browse, share, and download images believed to be in the public domain.

As the Gallery marks its 71st anniversary, it is fitting that we introduce NGA Images and an accompanying open access policy, which underscore the Gallery’s mission and national role in making its collection images and information available to scholars, educators, and the general public, said Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art. In turn this supports research, teaching, and personal enrichment; promotes interdisciplinary research; and nurtures an appreciation of all that inspires great works of art.

Many of the open access images have been digitized with the generous support of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

The National Gallery’s collection, which includes major works by European and American artists, traces the development of Western art from the Middle Ages to the present. The NGA Images Database offers more than 20,000 high-quality (up to 3,000-pixel) digital images available free for download and use, along with a standards-based reproduction guide and a help section provide advice for both novices and experts.

Users may browse the collections or search them by keyword and the Advanced Search Interface.  Users may also create, label, and take notes in lightboxes or images sets,. Links to these lightboxes can be shared via e-mail or may be copied and pasted in social media sites.  Anyone may browse and download NGA Images freely, but registered users can take advantage of lightboxes (very useful for lesson planning!) and their sharing features.

Registration is also required to fulfill certain image requests, including direct downloads of reproduction-ready images.

NGA Images’ new open access policy for digital images of art that believes to be in the public domain encourages free download of these images without authorization for both commercial or non-commercial use.

The Gallery’s open access policy is a natural extension of its mission to serve the United States of America by preserving, collecting, exhibiting, and fostering the understanding of works of art at the highest possible museum and scholarly standards. In applying the policy in a global digital environment, the Gallery also expands and enhances its educational and scholarly outreach. The Gallery believes that increased access to high-quality images of its works of art fuels knowledge, scholarship, and innovation, inspiring uses that continually transform the way we see and understand the world of art.

Thanks again to Gary Price of INFOdocket for this lead.

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Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. Open Access is the practice of providing unrestricted access via the Internet to peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles.

    Open Access is also increasingly being provided to theses, scholarly monographs and book chapters.

    Open Access comes in two degrees: Gratis Open Access is no-cost online access, while Libre Open Access is Gratis Open Access

    plus some additional usage rights.

    Open content is similar to Open Acces, but usually includes the right to modify the work, where as in scholarly publishing it is

    usual to keep an article’s content intact and to associate it with a fixed author or fixed group of authors. Creative Commons

    licenses can be used to specify usage rights. The Open Access idea can also be extended to the learning objects and resources

    provided in e-learning.

    OMICS Group Inc. is one of the Open aceess publisher which provides journals in the form of Open Access.

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