Rembrandt via The Met Museum // CC0 1.0
Rembrandt via The Met Museum // CC0 1.0

Met Museum Makes 375,000 Images Freely Available Online

Rembrandt via The Met Museum // CC0 1.0
Rembrandt via The Met Museum // CC0 1.0

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has made around 375,000 images of public-domain artworks from its collections freely available online, The New York Times reports. Members of the public can download, edit, and distribute high-resolution photos from the Met’s website, with no copyright restrictions whatsoever.

The initiative—a part of the Met’s new open access policyincludes partnerships with Creative Commons, Wikimedia, Artstor, Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), Art Resource, and Pinterest in order to improve access to the museum's images. For example, web users can now find images, save, tag, or "pin” images of artworks on Creative Commons, as Hyperallergic reports. The Met has also named a new “Wikipedian in Residence,” Richard Knipel, who’s responsible for uploading pictures into Wikimedia Commons, documenting their metadata, and creating new articles on various artworks or topics.

The images feature 200,000 artworks, including famous paintings like Emanuel Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware and El Greco’s The Vision of Saint John. They comprise a large portion of the Met’s collections, although many other of the institution's public domain works—think engravings, posters, and prints—have yet to be digitized. (Another 65,000 Met artworks have been digitized, but they don’t fall under public domain.)

“Our comprehensive and diverse museum collection spans 5000 years of world culture,” Met director Thomas P. Campbell said in a statement quoted by Artnet. “Our core mission is to be open and accessible for all who wish to study and enjoy the works of art in our care. Increasing access to the museum’s collection and scholarship serves the interests and needs of our 21st-century audiences by offering new resources for creativity, knowledge, and ideas.”

As Hyperallergic points out, the Met’s website has contained hundreds of thousands of publicly accessible images since 2014, but visitors were only able to download them for free if they were intended for non-commercial or scholarly use. Now, all of those images have CC0 1.0 or Creative Commons Zero licenses. You can browse the newly available works by going to the Met's Collection page and selecting the "Public Domain Artworks" filter on the left.

Digitized images of the Met's collections will be rolled out gradually, AFP Relax News reports.

[h/t The New York Times]

Tom Etherington, Penguin Press
The Covers of Jack Kerouac's Classic Titles Are Getting a Makeover
Tom Etherington, Penguin Press
Tom Etherington, Penguin Press

Readers have been enjoying classic Jack Kerouac books like The Dharma Bums and On the Road for decades, but starting this August the novels will have a new look. Several abstract covers have been unveiled as part of Penguin’s "Great Kerouac" series, according to design website It’s Nice That.

The vibrant covers, designed by Tom Etherington of Penguin Press, feature the works of abstract expressionist painter Franz Kline. The artwork is intended to capture “the experience of reading Kerouac” rather than illustrating a particular scene or character, Etherington told It’s Nice That. Indeed, abstract styles of artwork seem a fitting match for Kerouac’s “spontaneous prose”—a writing style that was influenced by improvisational jazz music.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of The Dharma Bums, which was published just one year after On the Road. The Great Kerouac series will be available for purchase on August 2.

[h/t It's Nice That]

John MacDougall, Getty Images
Stolpersteine: One Artist's International Memorial to the Holocaust
John MacDougall, Getty Images
John MacDougall, Getty Images

The most startling memorial to victims of the Holocaust may also be the easiest to miss. Embedded in the sidewalks of more than 20 countries, more than 60,000 Stolpersteine—German for “stumbling stones”—mark the spots where victims last resided before they were forced to leave their homes. The modest, nearly 4-by-4-inch brass blocks, each the size of a single cobblestone, are planted outside the doorways of row houses, bakeries, and coffee houses. Each tells a simple yet chilling story: A person lived here. This is what happened to them.

Here lived Hugo Lippers
Born 1878
Arrested 11/9/1938 — Altstrelitzer prison
Deported 1942 Auschwitz

The project is the brainchild of the German artist Gunter Demnig, who first had the idea in the early 1990s as he studied the Nazis' deportation of Sinti and Roma people. His first installations were guerrilla artwork: According to Reuters, Demnig laid his first 41 blocks in Berlin without official approval. The city, however, soon endorsed the idea and granted him permission to install more. Today, Berlin has more than 5000.

Demnig lays a Stolpersteine.
Artist Gunter Demnig lays a Stolpersteine outside a residence in Hamburg, Germany in 2012.
Patrick Lux, Getty Images

The Stolpersteine are unique in their individuality. Too often, the millions of Holocaust victims are spoken of as a nameless mass. And while the powerful memorials and museums in places such as Berlin and Washington, D.C. are an antidote to that, the Stolpersteine are special—they are decentralized, integrated into everyday life. You can walk down a sidewalk, look down, and suddenly find yourself standing where a person's life changed. History becomes unavoidably present.

That's because, unlike gravestones, the stumbling stones mark an important date between a person’s birth and death: the day that person was forced to abandon his or her home. As a result, not every stumbling stone is dedicated to a person who was murdered. Some plaques commemorate people who fled Europe and survived. Others honor people who were deported but managed to escape. The plaques aim to memorialize the moment a person’s life was irrevocably changed—no matter how it ended.

The ordinariness of the surrounding landscape—a buzzing cafe, a quaint bookstore, a tree-lined street—only heightens that effect. As David Crew writes for Not Even Past, “[Demnig] thought the stones would encourage ordinary citizens to realize that Nazi persecution and terror had begun on their very doorsteps."

A man in a shop holding a hammer making a Stolpersteine.
Artisan Michael Friedrichs-Friedlaender hammers inscriptions into the brass plaques at the Stolpersteine manufacturing studio in Berlin.
Sean Gallup, Getty Images

While Demnig installs every single Stolpersteine himself, he does not work alone. His project, which stretches from Germany to Brazil, relies on the research of hundreds of outside volunteers. Their efforts have not only helped Demnig create a striking memorial, but have also helped historians better document the lives of individuals who will never be forgotten.


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