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Finding and Using Visual Resources

Rights-free and Creative Commons image portals

Rights-free and open public collections of images are often offered with little or no restrictions. They might come with a Creative Commons license where an author surrenders some, but not all rights under copyright law. Here are some big image portals to start your search.


Creative Commons Search Search for images across several open archives

WikiMedia Commons A repository for public domain and freely-licensed educational media content (images, sound and video clips).

Flickr: The Commons  Access public photo collections from institutions worldwide.

Digital Public Library of America The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) offers a single point of access to millions of items - photographs, manuscripts, books, sounds, moving images, and more - from libraries, archives, and museums around the United States.

Europeana Digital collections from Europe's galleries, libraries, archives and museums.

Google Image Search Choose one of the "Free to use" options under Usage Rights to find an array of rights-free or Creative Commons licenses. 

Museums, archives, and libraries

Many museums, libraries, and archives are putting collections of images online for general use. These images may be in the Public Domain or offered with a Creative Commons license. The list of participating organizations is growing all the time but here are some of the major international institutions. 

Library of Congress American Memory  Collections relating to American history and culture. Maps, advertising, images of significant events and places, etc.

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection  Online access to much of the Prints and Photographs Division's holdings, including architecture, design and engineering.

NYPL Digital Gallery Provides free and open access to over 700,000 images digitized from the The New York Public Library's vast collections. Low resolution images are for personal, educational & research purposes.

Metropolitan Museum of Art License- and cost-free access to images of artwork in the collection that the Museum believes to be in the public domain and free of other known restrictions for scholarly use in any media

Getty Open Content The Getty makes available, without charge, all available digital images to which the Getty holds the rights or that are in the public domain to be used for any purpose. No permission is required.

British Museum Search almost two million objects in the British Museum collections.

Images from the History of Medicine (NLM) Comprising almost 70,000 images from the Prints and Photographs Collection as well as other collections held in the History of Medicine Division, IHM is one of the largest image databases in the world dedicated to images of medicine, dentistry, public health, the health professions, and health institutions.