Skip to Main Content

Finding Images and Other Visual Resources: General Resources

There are more ways to find interesting and useful images than Flickr and Google Image search. Learn how and where!

ARTstor Blog

Loading ...


The BPL gratefully acknowledges the Yale University Visual Resources Staff, in particular Visual Resources Center Manager Robert Carlucci, in allowing the BPL to adapt their visual resrouces template. In addition to the VRC staff, Ian McDermott, former Assistant Librarian at the Center for British Art at Yale, and Hannah Bennett, former Assistant  Director for Collections and Research at the Yale University Haas Family Arts Library, contributed multiple resources to this image guide.


Trending . . . Open Access Museum Images


With the launch of NGA Images, the National Gallery of Art implements an open access policy for digital images of works of art that the Gallery believes to be in the public domain. Images of these works are now available free of charge for any use, commercial or non-commercial. Users do not need to contact the Gallery for authorization to use these images. NGA Images offers more than 20,000 open access images.  Click here for recent additions.

For open access images in ARTstor's collection, see their Images for Academic Publishing (IAP) initiaitve

National Portrait Gallery, London

The National Portrait Gallery (London) provides downloads of a large range of images for academic and non-commercial projects through a new website facility. Over 53,000 low-resolution images will now be available free of charge to non-commercial users through a standard ‘Creative Commons’ licence and over 87,000 high-resolution images will also be available free of charge for academic use through the Gallery’s own licences.

General Image Resources

This is a subscription-based Web site. Yale is not currently a subscriber. Individuals may subscribe for access. This link is provided as a convenience to Library patrons who may wish to learn more about this resource. "Arkyves is dedicated to images and to the study of their meaning. It is a storehouse of pictures and texts, but also provides you with research tools you may need when studying them, or when discussing your finds with students or colleagues." 
 A rich collection of Web-based resources covering all areas of Art History, developed and maintained by Prof. Christopher Witcombe.
The Athenaeum
         Over 50,000 images of European and American painting  
Search high quality images on Flickr.  Read their disclaimer.
The National Library of Spain houses copies of every book published in Spain. In addition, there are valuable collections of incunabula, manuscripts, prints, drawings, photographs, sound recordings, sheet music, etc
Deutsches Dokumentationszentrum für Kunstgeschichte - Bildarchiv Foto Marburg is a research resource supported by the Philipps University in Marburg.  Its mission is to collect, index and make available photographs related to European art and architecture. Approximately 2 million images of the art and architecture from thirteen European countries contributed by about 80 partnering institutions including archives, museums, universities and research institutes.
Provides access to the British Library's greatest images from their vast collections with the option to license hi-res images for commercial purposes.  Images for educational use are available at 500 pixels (about a half of a projector screen resolution).  
A collection of more than 40,000 images, mostly black and white, drawn from resources at the Courtauld Institute, University of London.
Credo Reference finds encylcopedia entries and other reference materials across a diverse set of subjects. It  includes access to 60,000 high-quality searchable images (photographs, fine art, scientific diagrams, line drawings, and more).  Most notable images include hi-resolution images from the National Gallery London.
The Digital Images Collections Wiki is a resource of Free- and Fair-Use digital image collections that are available for anyone to use for personal or educational purposes. It was started to support students and faculty at Wellesley College.
A German Research Foundation (DFG) project, this database contains over 257 000 graphic portraits of clerics, rulers, artists, merchants,    etc., from major German museum and library collections.
Europeana is a single access point to millions of books, paintings, films, museum objects and archival records that have been digitised throughout Europe. It is an authoritative source of information coming from European cultural and scientific institutions. 
More and more cultural heritage institutions are contributing digital images to Flickr.  The Smithsonian, Brooklyn Museum, the Getty, and Library of Congress are just a few of them.
French government Department of Cultural Affairs Web site including access to their library of 450,000 images.  The images are watermarked and therefore of limited use for presentations.  But this resource is valuable for reference and research.
Web Portal to digital collections in French public institutions selected for their compatibility with the collections of the BnF. These documents are indexed in Gallica, via OAI-PMH, but remain available on their original sites.
Small images, full catalog entries, cross-reference
The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts presented cleanly (without advertising or excessive layout) for educational use.  Paul Halsall, Editor. 
Gateway to the digital collections that were funded by IMLS grants.  Contains information and links to about 200 digital image collections. 
American Memory is the gateway to 9 million digitized items organized into 100 thematic collections from the Library of Congress’s vast resources that document U.S. history and culture. Original formats include manuscripts, prints, photographs, posters, maps, sound recordings, motion pictures, books, pamphlets, and sheet music. 
This online catalog features nearly one million digital images taken from the Library's 50+ collections of prints and photographs. Included are images from the the National Child Labor Committee Collection, the U.S. News and World Report Magazine Photograph Collection, the Library of Congress Baseball Card Collection, and the Collection of Architecture, Design and Engineering Drawings. 
The Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, funded by the Heilbrunn Foundation, New Tamarind Foundation, and Zodiac Fund, is a chronological, geographical, and thematic exploration of the history of art from around the world, as illustrated by the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection. The Metropolitan Museum's curatorial, conservation, and education staff research and write the Timeline, which is an invaluable reference and research tool for students, educators, scholars, and anyone interested in the study of art history and related subjects. First launched in 2000, the Timeline now extends from prehistory to the present day. It will continue to expand in scope and depth, and reflect the most up-to-date scholarship.
NGA Images is a repository of digital images of the collections of the National Gallery of Art. On this website you can search, browse, share, and download images. A standards-based reproduction guide and a help section provide advice for both novices and experts. More than 20,000 open access digital images up to 3000 pixels each are available free of charge for download and use.
This webpage provides links to public domain digital images of many of those sites, including national parks, monuments, battlefields, historic sites and related areas. 
NYPL Digital Gallery offers thousands of digital images of drawings, illuminated manuscripts, maps, photographs, posters, prints, rare illustrated books, and more. Collections cover artworks and objects, creators, dance, design, furniture, motion pictures, music, ornament, performance, spectacle, theatre, advertising, book binding, dust jackets, friendship books, menus, post cards, posters, trade and greeting cards. Collections include Bernice Abbott's WPA Changing New York photographs, "Classic 6:" New York City Apartment Building Living 1880s-1910s, Metropolis: New York City Water and Transit Infrastructure in Photographs, and many more.
The collective resource of Grove Art Online and other Oxford databases with links to images from the articles.
In addition, check the Web sites of indivudal colleges, halls, libraries and museums for updates.
Wikimedia’s Public Domain Image Resource contains links to sites offering public domain digital images. The presence of a resource on this list does not guarantee that all or any of the images in it are in the public domain.  The user is responsible for any potential copyright infringement.
Over 568,000 images, video and audio available from across the Smithsonian's vast collections
  Over 750,000 images of British historic architecture and objects of material culture
A variety of images from many aspects of US government departments
Over 100,000 images that are freely available and copyright cleared for use in learning, teaching and research
Over 300,000 images from museums, universities and private collections can be found through this site which uses LUNA Insight as its viewer. LUNA Commons is another website that contains many of these collections, but that also offers users tools to create groups of images and share content.  
"An online repository of free-use images, sound and other media files. It is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation..." 
The project aims to create a high-quality, most complete and well-structured online repository of fine art. 
Digital library of primary materials from across the globe.  
The internationally recognized WorldImages database provides access to the California State University IMAGE Project. It has just been selected by the Library of Congress for inclusion in its historic collection of Internet materials. It contains approximately 80,000 images, is global in coverage and includes all areas of visual imagery.