Images of Works of Art in Museum Collections: The Experience of Open Access; A Study of 11 Museums

The Council on Library and Information Resources recently published the report Images of Works of Art in Museum Collections: The Experience of Open Access; A Study of 11 Museums. Authored by Kristin Kelly, the report was prepared for The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The following museums are included in the study:

• British Museum, London
• Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis
• J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
• Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles
• Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
• Morgan Library and Museum, New York
• National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
• Victoria and Albert Museum, London
• Walters Art Museum, Baltimore
• Yale Center for British Art, New Haven
• Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven

From the Report’s Executive Summary:

This report describes the current approaches of 11 art museums in the United States and the United Kingdom to the use of images of works of art that are in their collections and are in the public domain. Each approach is slightly different. By presenting the thought processes and methods used in these institutions, this report aims to inform the decision making of other museums that are considering open access to images in their collections. 

Following are the key findings presented in this report: 

• Providing open access is a mission-driven decision.
• Different museums look at open access in different ways.
• Internal process is important.
• Loss of control fades as a concern.
• Technology matters.
• Revenue matters less than many institutions think it does.
• Change is good.