Art on Unlock Culture

This site is a place for experimentation and exploration of public domain art from museums around the world.

All of the art you see on Unlock Culture is sourced from Open Access Collections from museums and libraries. Open Access in cultural heritage means that the institution is extending a license for the public to incorporate select images from their collections into research, publications, and even products that can be sold – free of charge without restriction.

They do not ask for payment in return for using their image files.

They can do this with works in their collection that have entered the public domain. This means that the copyright of the original creator has expired, and with it control over distribution, publication and re-use.

Why do museums do this? Why remove the licensing fees?

Museums typically share a mission of promoting access to cultural heritage. And access doesn’t always mean entering the physical space of the museum. When they release digital images of works in the public domain for free, usage and re-distribution of these images may grow, expanding awareness of both the objects in the collection and the museum itself.

Open Access is a gift. What can we do in return?

Get to know their licensing programs and start using these works!

Share, remix and give credit to the museums who are sharing freely. There’s so much to explore and create.

Rachel Wright, Curator of Unlock Culture

Inspired early on by Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message,” Rachel creates products and initiatives to make art more accessible through technology. After completing a masters in art history at the University of Texas at Austin, she joined Corbis Images where she developed image licensing programs for education, mobile and consumer goods for more than 10 years. Subsequently she began experimenting with publishing open access images from cultural heritage in educational and commercial products. She now leads product strategy at CultureTech in their mission to open up art. Together with CultureTech, Tulane Law School, and several museums, she is currently researching how blockchain technology can connect art owners, rights holders and admirers – to make it easier to find, license, use, and re-mix art through the ages.

Unlock Culture is a place for Rachel to publish art that catches her eye, to share ideas on working with art from museums, and to experiment with making a few fun products.

Beware, she does have a soft spot for rabbits.