The Art Institute of Chicago boasts a collection of nearly 300,000 works of art, including some of the world’s most beloved paintings and sculptures. Edward Hopper’s 1942 “Nighthawks” infuses an otherwise melancholic night with the fluorescent glow of an all-night diner inhabited by four solitary figures. Grant Wood’s 1930 “American Gothic” captures the resilience of the nation’s rural Midwest. Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s “Beata Beatrix”—an 1871 or ’72 rendering of Dante Alighieri’s great love—achieves heights of emotions assisted by the pre-Raphaelite painter’s own sense of loss over the recent death of his wife and muse, Elizabeth Siddal. And the list goes on.
But if a trip to Chicago isn’t on the agenda, there’s another way to see these and other highlights from the museum’s vast collection: As Eileen Kinsella writes for artnet News, the Art Institute is the latest cultural powerhouse to offer open access to its digital archives, which total a staggering 44,313 images and counting.
According to a blog post written by Michael Neault, the museum’s executive creative director, the pictures are listed under a Creative Commons Zero, or CC0, license, which essentially amounts to no copyright restrictions whatsoever. Kinsella notes that the Art Institute has also upped the quality of images included in its database, enabling art lovers to zoom in and take a closer look at their favorites.
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