The following collections contain images that span all periods of art history

American Memory

As stated by the Library of Congress in the mission statement for this project: "American Memory provides free and open access through the Internet to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience. It is a digital record of American history and creativity. These materials, from the collections of the Library of Congress and other institutions, chronicle historical events, people, places, and ideas that continue to shape America, serving the public as a resource for education and lifelong learning." Materials can be easily browsed or searched, and is accompanied with high quality metadata.


Mark Harden's 'Artchive' contains well known images that would be covered in any art history survey course. Navigation is easy, as the artists and periods are listed in a frame to the left side of the page. A brief biography on each artist is provides, as well as a few links for further information. The Artchive contains both public domain and copyrighted works of art, and the owner of the page requests that you use no more than 5-6 images. More information about the Artchive's policies and fair-use can be found here.

Arts and Humanities Data Service

"The Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS) is a UK national service aiding the discovery, creation and preservation of digital resources in and for research, teaching and learning in the arts and humanities." Image are divided into five categories: Archeology, History, Visual Arts, Literature, Languages, & Linguistics, and Performing Arts. AHDS is both searchable and browsable, and allows users to create their own personal collections from the images found at the site.

Art Images for College Teaching

Allan T. Kohl created Art Images for College Teaching (AICT) as a personal, non-profit project designed to "disseminate images of art and architectural works in the public domain on a free-access, free-use basis to all levels of the educational community, as well as to the public at large." Images displayed on the site have been personally photographed by the Kohl, and the emphasis on ancient, medieval, and Renaissance European art and architecture reflects his research and teaching intersts. However, 18th and 20th century works are included, and would be most appropriate for this class.

Art Renewal Center

The Art Renewal Center describes itself as "the largest on-line Museum on the internet," and is steadily expanding. The collection includes over 68,000 images and over 5,000 artists, and appears to be more Western focused. It is searchable by artist and title, but is not browsable. If you already know what you are looking for, this is a great site to search. In addition to the gallery, the Art Renewal Center provides biographical information, articles, message boards, and art competitions.

The Athenaeum

The Athenaeum is a set of online tools for researching the humanities, and has an extensive collection of online images. The site includes over 28,000 images, and adds hundreds more each month with the contribution of the users. As images and data can be submitted by anyone, copyright violations and inaccurate information are possible. Particularly strong is the Impressionist collection, although images from most time periods and styles can be found. The Athenaeum is searchable via a Google search box, and is browsable by title, artist, date, museum, and nation.

CGFA-A Virtual Museum

Created by Carol Gerten-Jackson, the CGFA is a fair sized collection of digital images from both well-known and lesser-known Western artists. The site is searchable via a Google search bar, and is indexed by artist, nationality, and time period to enable browsing. Image quality is decent, although some images are better than others.

La Ciudad de la Pintura

In Spanish, this site provides an extensive gallery that allows the user to by artist, museum, period, and keyword. A special gallery of railway art is also available. The color quality of the images is decent, and the site allows for different size options. This is an excellent site for finding both well known and lesser known artists of all periods.

David Rumsey Collections

With the David Rumsey Collections, one can explore over over 300,000 images from over 50 collections. Most of the image collections are free, however, ones that require subscription are noted. Otherwise, the images are available for personal and educational use. The collections are available on the Luna Insight platform, and the images are easily searchable and are of fantastic quality. No browsing feature is available.

Digital Public Library of America

The Digital Public Library of America brings together the riches of America’s libraries, archives, and museums, and makes them freely available to the world. It strives to contain the full breadth of human expression, from the written word, to works of art and culture, to records of America’s heritage, to the efforts and data of science. "


Europeana provides access to over six million digital items, including images, texts, sounds, and videos. It is funded by the European Commission and its member states, and includes content from museum, galleries, libraries, archives, and audio-visual collections. The extensive list of organizations that Europeana pulls its content from includes notable institutions such as the Rijksmuseum, the British Library, and the Louvre.
Currently the online collection is in its beta version, but version 1.0 will be launch later in 2010 and will include links to over ten million digital items.


Although it is a personal photo hosting site, Flickr's features can be used to facilitate research in art history. A simple artist search will retrieve numerous results, but can be narrowed down by clicking on the 'most interesting' tab. This will bring to the top of the search the photos that have been favorited the most by other users, as well as those that have the most comments. Flickr groups is a fantastic way to browse through images, and allows the user to view photos that share a common theme. Many artists have their own Flickr group, as well as many museums and stylistic periods.

Historic Illustrations of Art and Architecture

According to Allen T. Kohl, founder of Art Images for College Teaching, this site contains historic illustrations that were originally published during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Many originally appeared in publications that predated the widespread use of photography for art documentation...While these illustrations are often beautiful examples of the draftsman's or engraver's skill, by their very nature they also represent subjective interpretations of the monuments and works depicted. Anyone wishing to use these images for teaching and research purposes should bear this in mind. Moreover, some of these illustrations may no longer reflect current scholarship due to ongoing research and critical reassessment of individual sites and works since their original publication. Therefore, the use of these images for pedagogical purposes should be complemented as necessary by comparison with updated plans, drawings, and photographs of the subject works and sites. Historic Illustrations features both browsing and searching for finding images, and all of the images as great quality as they were all scanned as full sized tiffs at 600 dpi. Each image contains extensive metadata, and can be downloaded at different sizes. One of the most interesting features of the site is the ability to create 'portfolios,' or a collection of organized images, and share them with the public. Users can browse existing portfolios such as 'Dada in Berlin" or "Photography in Politics." The 347 images hosted by the site are mostly architecture, however it also includes art.


"The mission of HumanitiesWeb is to build a humanities site that will show the interconnections, the web, the links, between history, the arts, and culture - and how each plays off and influences the others." The Art Gallery contains information on the arts sorted by time period, artist, nationality, topics, themes, as well as a glossary. Many articles and biographies are included to compliment the visual images. The images are accessible by first finding an artist page, and then using the menu to the left and clicking on selected works. Many large, high quality images are available. This site is excellent for browsing, although it is searchable through a Google search box.

Luna Commons

As described, "The LUNA Commons is where public collections are aggregated and viewed in our powerful LUNA browser. While most other collection building tools create isolated collections we’ve built a system that allows institutions to easily share and promote their public collections. The LUNA Commons provides free access to hundreds of thousands of images from reputable sources for educational and public use" The Commons includes collections such as the Catena Historic Gardens and Landscapes, the Cornell Political Americana Collection, the Hoover Institution's Collection of Russian posters, the Online Archive of California, the John Carter Brown Library's Early American Images, and historical maps from the David Rumsey Collection, Japanese Historical Maps, and Maps of Africa.

New York Public Library Digital Gallery

New York Public Library's Digital Gallery provides free access to 550,000 images from rare primary sources in the NYPL's collection, including including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, illustrated books, printed ephemera, and more. Although one won't find well known artworks here, the variety of resources found provides extrordinary supplemental information.

Olga's Gallery

As one of the largest and most comprehensive online collections, Olga's gallery provides access to over 10,000 works of art. Images are indexed by artist, country, and movement. Many well known Western artists are included, as well as many Russian and Eastern European artists. The images are large and high quality, and provide basic data such as artist, year, medium, and location. Images are available for personal and educational use, although the author of the site asks that a URL citation is provided.

Orazio Centaro's Art Images on the Web (OCAIW)

OCAIW consists of a catalog of the great masters works, divided into painters, sculptors, architects, and photographers. Selected themes are highlighted as well, such as nudes in art history, works by Degas, artists working with mediums other than the four previously listed, and great works in photography. The site contains a huge number of decent quality images, as well as links to more images from other online galleries. No data is included with the images from OCAIW, except for the date. The catalog is both searchable and browsable by artist, title, and museum. The site also includes links to art news sites and museums and galleries around the world. Orazio Centaro, the owner of the site, has done his best to make sure that these images are available for the public, although it is best to check the copyright policy for each gallery that one may be directed to.

Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS) Image Gallery

The SIRIS image gallery contains over 266,000 images from several archival repositories and museums at the Smithsonian Institution. The content of the images is wide ranging, including categories such as aircraft, Latino culture, and American gardens. Images are organized by medium, culture, and archive. In addition, the collection offers extensive search capabilities. The Smithsonian welcomes you to make fair use of the Content as defined by copyright law. More information can be found here.


According to the website, VADS is "the online resource for visual arts. It has provided services to the academic community for 12 years and has built up a considerable portfolio of visual art collections comprising over 100,000 images that are freely available and copyright cleared for use in learning, teaching and research in the UK." The images are very high quality and accompanied by thorough metadata. Searching and browsing is enabled, and once users sign up for a free account, access to a personalized 'lightbox' is enabled. VADS also includes teaching resources for the K-12 community.

Web Gallery of Art

This database includes a collection of European paintings and sculptures from the 12th to the mid 19th centuries. Guided tours are available to offer visitors a better understanding of art from the period. The collection can be browsed based on keyword searching while an an artist index is also available, easily accessed from the website's top banner. Images in the collection can solely be used for personal or educational purposes.

WebMuseum, Paris

Created and maintained by Nicolas Pioch, the Webmuseum features a small collection of artists from the Medieval times to the present. Cézanne is the featured artist, with over 100 of his works included in the collection. An artist index, period index, and glossary are accessed by clicking on the 'Famous Artworks' Collections, making the site easily browsable. Pioch has included a brief biography and overview of the artist's career with each entry, providing some context with the images. The images large and generally great quality.

WikiMedia Commons

The WikiMedia Commons is a huge media repository maintained by volunteers. Unlike other media repositories, everything on WikiMedia is free, and "everyone is allowed to copy, use and modify any files here freely as long the source and the authors are credited and as long as users release their copies/improvements under the same freedom to others." As it is somewhat overwhelming to search due to the vast amount of information and links, it is best to know what you are looking for and to be able to search for it. However, one can search for art by period and numerous other subdivisions. Overall, I am impressed with the size and quality of the images, although it varies from artist to artist. Data for the image is usually in German. Although everything found on WikiMedia is in the public domain, and thus fair-use, images from specific artists may not be used. For example, a search for Picasso informs the reader that his works are protected by international copyright laws until 70 years after his death. WikiMedia makes all of this information readily available.

World Digital Library

The mission of the WDL is to "make available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world.
The principal objectives of the WDL are to:
  • Promote international and intercultural understanding;
  • Expand the volume and variety of cultural content on the Internet;
  • Provide resources for educators, scholars, and general audiences;
  • Build capacity in partner institutions to narrow the digital divide within and between countries"

The images are very high quality and extremely well organized. The WDL is a lot of fun to browse.

WorldImages Kiosk

WorldImages Kiosk provides access to California State University's IMAGE project, providing access to over over 50,000 images. The database includes all areas of visual imagery, and divides these areas into different portfolios. The arts and architecture portfolio is further divided by subjects and dates, which are all then further subdivided. While this enables browsing, it can be difficult to navigate. One can view all of the portfolios by clicking on the "portfolios list" in the menu.

Applied arts, design, graphic arts, and special selections are also included collections. The images found in these collections are large and good quality, and can even be zoomed in on with software called 'zoomify.'