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A Museum’s Online Image Library

Carol Vogel at the New York Times has reported that the Los Angeles County Museum of Art [LACMA] will provide high-resolution images in its online Image Library. The images will be available free of charge and free of restrictions on use.

What about copyright? “So far about 2,000 images — only those in the public domain — are available from its collection of more than 100,000 works.” So far? The exact expansion of the online collection is unclear. For artworks that are not listed in the image library, high resolution images may also be requested online.

Will people stop going to the museum if they can see the images online? Well, most things seem to be available online today, and yet people do still leave their computers, occasionally. As Vogel notes, “[i]n this age when it is possible to listen to hours of free music online, it is little wonder that museums are beginning to give the public access to images from their collections.”

How will this affect the museum’s revenue stream? According to the museum’s Director, “It’s negligible in the long run. My view is that it’s better to get the images out there so people will want to come and see the real thing.” This blog has already considered the Google Art Project, and it does seem as though online material will merely whet the public’s appetite for art.

According to the website, “[t]his image library represents our commitment to making the breadth and depth of the museum’s collection broadly accessible online and to the widest possible audience. LACMA plans to continue adding images to this library over time.”

Read more at ArtForum and at Art Daily