Smithsonian Institution Releases 2.8 Million 2D, 3D Images Into the Public Domain

The Smithsonian, world's largest museum and research complex, has put 2.8 million high resolution images into the public domain to download for free

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Smithsonian Institution Releases 2.8 Million 2D, 3D Images Into the Public Domain

Photo Credit: Smithsonian Institution

Smithsonian will release 200,000 more images online throughout the rest of 2020

Highlights
  • A collection of more than 2.8 million items has been released online
  • Smithsonian will release 200,000 more images online this year
  • Significant step towards the efforts to migrate museum collections online

The Smithsonian Institution, world's largest museum and research complex, announced on Tuesday, that it is releasing about 2.8 million high resolution images from its massive collection into the public domain, for anyone to use and download for free. The institution made the announcement through its official magazine, The Smithsonian Magazine. This is the first time, in its 174-year-long history, that the institution has made accessible, its 2.8 million high resolution 2D and 3D images from across its collections on an open access platform.

The open access platform allows people to download any kind of image free of cost. The database is vast, it includes data and material from all the 19 Smithsonian museums, nine research centres, libraries, archives, and zoo. The institution, in its announcement of the open access database, also said that it encourages people to use, reuse, and transform the material into just about anything they choose - be it a postcard or a beer koozie.

It also announced that it will roll out another 200,000 images throughout the rest of 2020, as the Institution plans to digitise its collection of 155 million items that is still growing.

“Being a relevant source for people who are learning around the world is key to our mission,” Effie Kapsalis, Smithsonian's senior digital program officer said. “We can't imagine what people are going to do with the collections. We're prepared to be surprised.”

This digitisation is also a significant step towards the efforts to move museum collections into the public domain. Nearly 200 other museums, according to Smithsonian Institution are also making similar moves to digitise their collections.

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Further reading: Smithsonian Institution
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