The Getty Museum announced today (12-Aug-2013) that they will start sharing freely and without restriction high-resolution digital content of their collection via their website. This is great news for the museum and for the world of art history where getting high-quality images for research, teaching, and publication can be very difficult and expensive. This is also great news because it adds some momentum to the movement that is trying to make open access the standard for museum and library image collections.
The current release of images includes the Getty Museum’s image collection. In the coming months they plan to release images from their special collections including documentation from their field projects from around the world and other knowledge resources.
Although their message underscores the social responsibility behind sharing resources freely, research has shown that the more museums make digital images of their collection available to the public, the more people will *visit and pay* to see the real thing in the museum. I’ve made some edits to my list of Open Access / Public Domain images page. We’ll see if anyone notices it.