Stock images are beautiful. Journalists use them daily and other industries even more so. Finding good free ones, however, can be challenge. Despite the wonderful troves of paid for stock images online, the Smithsonian has now released millions of perfectly good and ultra-high definition renders of royalty free images – of famous artworks and photographs – to the public domain!

When it comes to old artwork, getting copies of them in high resolution can be a pain. Thanks to the Smithsonian Institute, finding high resolution renders just got a whole lot easier. The Smithsonian has released all of the images on a brand-new open-access online platform adequately called Open Access. The platform will host 2D and 3D images from 19 of the Smithsonian’s museums, nine research centres, archives, libraries, and even the Smithsonian National Zoo.

Better still, the Smithsonian actively encourages users of its platform to use the royalty free images as they please. This is thanks in large part to the Smithsonian’s focus on being a relevant source for people who are learning around the world. The Smithsonian is keen to see what kinds of creations users of Open Access will come up with, and are “prepared to be surprised”.

In fact, the Smithsonian Magazine even went ahead and told users to “transform [the images] into just about anything they choose—be it a postcard, a beer koozie or a pair of bootie shorts”! Open Access really is meant for anyone, whether you are a content creator, a scholar, or a museum curator.

The Smithsonian also says that there will be many more royalty free images to come. In the next few months, the Institute will add another 200 000 images to Open Access, and will continue to digitise their more-than 155 million items.

A quick search on Open Access reveals famous portraits of Pocahontas, George Washington, and even famous pilot Amelia Earhart’s flight suit. They even have The Roman Daughter painting from renowned painter Rembrandt Peale! You can check out the entire Open Access library yourself, but be warned: it is running at a snail’s pace. I assume this is because of the sudden floods of people wanting in on the copious amounts of royalty free images on offer.

Junior Editor & Full Time Contributor at Vamers | View Author Profile

From Superman to Ironman; Bill Rizer to Sam Fisher and everything in-between, Edward loves it all. He is a Bachelor of Arts student and English Major specialising in Language and Literature. He is an avid writer and casual social networker with a flare for all things tech related.