NYPL Releases Free Digital Image Archive


The New York Public Library (NYPL) has released 187,000 images — or, in their parlance, “digital items” — into the public domain. The effort, which launched today, January 6, was spearheaded by NYPL Labs, a kind of think tank within the institution dedicated to innovative projects and collaborations. The images, which are downloadable without restrictions, can be browsed on a visualization tool created by NYPL, allowing viewers to organize the database by century created (11th century onward), genre, collection, and color.

The total number of images made available on the new platform represents just over a tenth of the library’s total holdings, which number 1.5 million photographs, illustrations, and drawings. This visual archive has long been a key analog resource at the library, with artists from Diego Rivera to Art Spiegelman making use of the collection for their work, as a recent feature in ARTnews magazine has noted. (The new effort also joins the larger, 670,000-plus item digital collections database maintained by the library, which is not limited to images.)

As part of its open-access public domain initiatives, NYPL Labs has announced a “Remix Residency,” a fellowship “designed to spur transformative, interesting, beautiful new uses of our digital collections.”

Mostafa Heddaya (@mheddaya)

(Photo: Statuary Hall, Metropolitan Museum of Art, c. 1905-1915, via NYPL.)