March 28, 2020

Big News! Say Hello to Smithsonian Open Access, 2.8 Million 2D and 3D Digital Collection Images (CC0) and Data Now Available Online to Share, Reuse with More Items Coming Soon

From the Smithsonian:

The Smithsonian announced today the launch of Smithsonian Open Access, an initiative that removes Smithsonian copyright restrictions from about 2.8 million of its digital collection images and nearly two centuries of data. This means that people everywhere can now download, transform and share this open access content for any purpose, for free, without further permission from the Smithsonian. Among museums and cultural institutions, this is the largest and most interdisciplinary open access program to date. The Smithsonian will continue to add items on an ongoing basis, with more than 3 million images designated as open access by late 2020.

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The Smithsonian Open Access content includes high-resolution 2D and 3D images of collection items, as well as research datasets and collections metadata, which users can download and access in bulk.

All of the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives and the National Zoo contributed images or data to this launch. The program includes content across the arts, sciences, history, culture, technology and design, from portraits of historic American figures to 3D scans of dinosaur skeletons. Previously, the Smithsonian made more than 4.7 million collection images available online for personal, non-commercial and educational use.

Now, with Smithsonian Open Access, nearly 3 million of those images carry a Creative Commons Zero designation, which waives the Institution’s copyright and permits a greater variety of uses, both commercial and non-commercial, without the need for Smithsonian permission or payment.

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Open access also makes Smithsonian content available via Creative Commons, Google Arts & Culture, Wikipedia and other digital platforms, increasing the reach and impact of these collections.

Read the Complete Launch Announcement

Direct to Smithsonian Open Access Website, Search Interface

More From Smithsonian Magazine:

The database’s launch also marks the latest victory for a growing global effort to migrate museum collections into the public domain. Nearly 200 other institutions worldwide—including Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago—have made similar moves to digitize and liberate their masterworks in recent years. But the scale of the Smithsonian’s release is “unprecedented” in both depth and breadth, says Simon Tanner, an expert in digital cultural heritage at King’s College London.

Spanning the arts and humanities to science and engineering, the release compiles artifacts, specimens and datasets from an array of fields onto a single online platform. Noteworthy additions include portraits of Pocahontas and Ida B. Wells, images of Muhammad Ali’s boxing headgear and Amelia Earhart’s record-shattering Lockheed Vega 5B, along with thousands of 3-D models that range in size from a petite Embreea orchid just a few centimeters in length to the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant, estimated at about 29 light-years across.

Read the Complete Article (approx. 1700 words)

Resources

Direct to Smithsonian Open Access Website, Search the Collection, Collection Highlights

Direct to Wikimedia Article on Medium: A Landmark Smithsonian Decision Could Change The Way We See History Online. What It Means For Wikipedia And Women’s Stories.

Direct to ALL Smithsonian Metadata and Digital Resources (via Collections Search Center)

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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