The British Museum has revamped its online collections database, making over 1.9 million photos of its collection available for free online under a Creative Commons license.
Under the new agreement, the majority of the 1.9 million images are being made available for anyone to use for free under a Creative Commons 4.0 license. Users no longer need to register to use these photographs, and can now download them directly from the British Museum.
Under the terms of the Creative Commons license, you are free to share and adapt the images for non-commercial use, but must include a credit to the British Museum.
This new version of their online database has been unveiled earlier than planned due to the closure of the museum and the fact that there’s a lot of people stuck at home and visiting museums virtually.
The relaunch also sees 280,000 new object photographs and 85,000 new object records published for the very first time, many of them acquisitions the Museum has made in recent years, including 73 portraits by Damian Hirst, a previously lost watercolour by Rossetti, and a stunning 3,000-year-old Bronze age pendant.
Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum, said “Whether you are a student, an artist, a scholar or are a lover of history and culture, this is an unparalleled resource to explore the richness, diversity and complexity of human history contained in the British Museum’s collection.”
This revamp is the biggest update the Museum’s Collection Online has seen since being first created in 2007. It is now fully responsive, making it accessible on mobile and tablets alongside desktop browsers for the first time.
The online collection includes the Museum’s most famous objects such as the Rosetta Stone, the artefacts of Sutton Hoo, the Cyrus Cylinder, the Parthenon Sculptures, and the Benin Bronzes. Object records include physical descriptions, information on materials, display and acquisition history, dimensions, previous owners and curatorial comments. Work is continuing to ensure this information is included as fully as possible on every object in the collection and to add new photographs.
A major new addition is the ability to see object images up close, which will be available on a select number of key objects, including the Rapa Nui sculpture Hoa Hakananai’a and the Admonitions Scroll made in China over 1600 years ago.
The number will then grow to thousands over the coming weeks.
The whole collection is online here.