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Smithsonian Institution releases 2.8 million images into public domain

smithsonian museum, open access

The world’s largest museum, education, and research complex, Smithsonian Institution, has just released 2.8 million images into the public domain.

The collection, named Open Access, features everything from images of historical objects to photography to art, as well as over two centuries of scientific data, all which the institute encourages users to “download, remix, re-use, and share” for free.

smithsonian museum, open access

Home Rule Charter, Yes!, Anacostia Community Museum

The Smithsonian Institute has just announced the release of nearly 3 million 2D and 3D images into the public domain in a collection called Open Access. 

Open Access features digital items in both 2D and 3D form which come from a collection of 155 million items from the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, nine research centres, libraries, archives, as well as the National Zoo.

In opening them up to the public, the institute suggests they could be used “For your research, your art, your design, for learning, to innovate just about anything you want.” 

Speaking on the release, Smithsonian’s senior digital program officer, Effie Kapsalis, described: “Being a relevant source for people who are learning around the world is key to our mission.”

“We can’t imagine what people are going to do with the collections. We’re prepared to be surprised.” 

The BBC has released over 16,000 sound effects for free download.

On top of this, the Smithsonian will also continue rolling out another 200,000 images throughout the rest of the year as it continues to digitise its entire collection.

“[Our mission is] the increase and diffusion of knowledge,” the Institution describes on its website.“We want to empower people everywhere to participate in that mission with us in new and innovative ways for the 21st century.”

Check out a video on Open Access and check out some of the images below. To access the collection, head here.

Download hundreds of Japanese prints from Van Gogh’s personal collection for free. 

Alto saxophone owned and played by Charlie Parker, National Museum of African American History and Culture

Boxing headgear worn by Muhammad Ali, National Museum of African American History and Culture

Capsule, Mercury, MA-6, National Air and Space Museum

Evibacus princeps, National Museum of Natural History

Walt Whitman in Camden, N.J., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Angel, Smithsonian American Art Museum and its Renwick Gallery

United States National Museum, Alcoholic Specimen Room, Smithsonian Institution Archives

Preliminary Design for the Salon d’Angle at the Palais Royal, Paris, France, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Among the Sierra Nevada, California, Smithsonian American Art Museum and its Renwick Gallery

Department of Birds Work Area in the Castle, Smithsonian Institution Archives

Command Module, Apollo 11, National Air and Space Museum

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February 26, 2020