PrintShareE-Mail This Page

Finding Still Images

Finding digital images for use in teaching and research may involve a variety of strategies. Google Image Search may yield results, but the quality of the images varies, and the images uncovered in a Google Image Search will, more than likely, have specific copyright restrictions. Subscription image databases (listed below) contain high quality images useful for teaching and research. While images in these databases are under copyright, use is usually permitted for educational purposes. Check the use policies associated with each collection.


From the ARTstor blog: "ARTstor is a digital library of nearly one million images and related data in the areas of art, architecture, the humanities, and social sciences with a set of tools to view, present and manage images for research and pedagogical purposes; and a restricted usage environment that seeks to balance the rights of content providers with the needs and interests of content users. ARTstor is a non-profit initiative, founded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with a mission to use digital technology to enhance scholarship, teaching and learning in the arts and associated fields."

Saskia Art Images (CARLI) Collection

From the description for the Saskia collection: "The collection contains 30,000 digital images of paintings, sculpture and architecture, including images from many important collections: the Prado, the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Uffizi, and the Louvre as well as archaeological sites in Greece, Italy, Turkey and Egypt. The images can be displayed and downloaded in high-resolution format. Additionally, the descriptive data about the images includes references to the occurrences of these images in 19 major art history texts, including Gardner's Art Through the Ages, 12th edition; Understanding Art, 7th edition; Art and Ideas, 10th edition; Discovering Art History, 4th edition."

Bridgeman Art Library Archive

From the description: "Founded in 1972, the Bridgeman Art Library works with museums, art galleries and artists to make the best art available for reproduction. The result is an outstanding archive of images drawn from collections throughout the world. Every subject, concept, style and medium is represented, from the masterpieces of national museums to the hidden treasures of private collections. Fine art is just one of the sources of images; design, antiques, maps, architecture, furniture, glass, ceramics, anthropological artefacts and many others also feature in the collection."

AP Images

From the description: "The AP Images collection contains some 400,000 images, most of which are contemporary photos made since late 1995. Hundreds of spot news and feature pictures enter into the Archive each day, and a selection of historical images are scanned in weekly."

Collections from Cultural Institutions

Libraries, archives, government agencies, historical societies, museums, and other cultural organizations continue to digitize parts of their collections and make them available online. Some major collections of digital images from cultural institutions include:

There are dozens of other cultural institutions (state and local historical societies, state libraries, other collaborative projects) that make their digital image collections accessible on the internet. Digital collections specific to a geographical location can be discovered by searching Google or another search engine using keywords describing the place (e.g., "Alaska") and a term such as "digital library" or "digital archives".

Other Methods for Finding Digital Images

The JISC Digital Media site provides a great deal of advice about using digital media in the UK higher education environment.  The JISC site also maintains a page devoted to reviewing image search engines.  

Two major projects bring together descriptions of the content of dozens of digital image project: