Cleveland Museum Of Art Takes Leap Into Digital Age

 Cleveland – The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) announced Wednesday it is using Open Access to make high-resolution digital images and collections data freely available by means of the internet. Open Access means the public now has the ability to share, remix, and reuse images of as many as 30,000 CMA artworks that are in the public domain for commercial as well as scholarly and noncommercial purposes. Additional information on more than 61,000 artworks —both those in the public domain and those with copyright or other restrictions—is also now available. 

“The CMA’s Open Access program brings our mission ‘for the benefit of all the people forever’ into the digital age,” said William Griswold, director. “With Open Access, the museum makes its collection of art from all periods and parts of the world easier to access and more relevant to the public. As a global leader among museums, the CMA is committed to transparency and universal access, and we anticipate that other institutions around the world will undertake similar initiatives in order to engage new audiences and help bring art to life for all.”     

The CMA’s Open Access program is the most comprehensive to date, with high-resolution images in both JPG and TIF formats as well as a fully operable application programming interface (API) that can be accessed here.

Among the significant features of the CMA’s Open Access offering are rich metadata with the inclusion of authored text, exhibition history, bibliographic citations, catalogue raisonné numbers, and provenance information for each artwork. Collection data in both the CSV and JSON file formats can be accessed via a GitHub repository at

Photos courtesy of Cleveland Museum Of Art

Chief Digital Information Officer Jane Alexander explained, “The Cleveland Museum of Art’s Open Access program builds on its reputation for innovative digital projects including the ARTLENS Gallery. With its world-class collection and talented team, we are able to launch with a robust, usable toolset that will inspire artists, creative developers, and communities to leverage our expansive and comprehensive dataset.”

In conjunction with this new initiative, the museum is launching its newly redesigned online collection to make it easy for individuals, scholars, students, and virtual visitors to have access to a wealth of information on art. This includes up to 35 fields of metadata with descriptive text, creating more possibilities for semantic relationships, contextual interpretations, and translations related to artworks in the collection. In addition, the museum’s website will allow visitors to choose the view that is best for them, whether it’s text-heavy or image-focused. The CMA has also added a refined advanced search to make finding artworks simple and intuitive. 

In addition to Creative Commons, Wikimedia, Internet Archive, Artstor, and Artsy have incorporated the CMA’s public domain collection into their websites, thus increasing the view of CMA images around the world and in multiple languages. Because of the museum’s application programming interface (API), these sites will update regularly with new content from the CMA. 

Visit the CMA’s collection online to research, study, and download Open Access images: by clicking here.

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