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Open Access at the National Gallery of Art

Open Access Policy for Images of Works of Art Presumed in the Public Domain

With the launch of NGA Images, the National Gallery of Art implemented an open access policy for digital images of works of art that the National Gallery believes to be in the public domain. Images of these works are available free of charge for any use, commercial or non-commercial, under Creative Commons Zero (CC0). Users do not need to contact the National Gallery for authorization to use these images. They are available for download on object pages. See Policy Details below for specific instructions and notes for users.


The National Gallery of Art serves the nation by welcoming all people to explore and experience art, creativity, and our shared humanity. In pursuing this mission, we make collection images and information available to scholars, educators, and the general public to support research, teaching, and personal enrichment; to promote interdisciplinary research; and to nurture an appreciation of all that inspires great works of art.

Our open access policy is a natural extension of this mission, and in applying the policy in a global digital environment, we also expand and enhance our educational and scholarly outreach. We believe that increased access to high quality images of its works of art fuels knowledge, scholarship, and innovation, inspiring uses that continually transform the way we see and understand the world of art.

Works in the public domain are those not protected by copyright. We have launched this open access policy with digital images of works of art that we believe to be in the public domain.  

Policy Details

Users may download and reproduce—free of charge and without seeking authorization from the National Gallery—any digital image of a work in our collection that the we believe is in the public domain.  These digital images are being released by the National Gallery under Creative Commons Zero (CC0).

If an image of a work of art is not currently available under open access, it is for one or more of the following reasons:

  • the work is still under copyright, or the copyright status is unclear
  • privacy or publicity issues are known to exist
  • the work is not fully owned by the National Gallery
  • contractual restrictions specified by the artist or donor preclude open access
  • the work has not yet been photographed or the image quality standards of the existing photographs do not conform to National Gallery criteria
To inquire about image availability, please contact us at [email protected], and include the accession number, artist name and title of the work of art in your e-mail.

Notes for Users

  1. While the National Gallery believes these works of art to be in the public domain, we can only give permissions with respect to rights the National Gallery have and make no representations or warranties that use of these images will not violate rights that persons or entities other than we may have under the laws of various countries.

  2. No copyright or other proprietary right in the image itself or in the underlying work of art that we may have is conveyed by making the image accessible. Furthermore, in making the image accessible, the National Gallery does not grant the user an exclusive right to use or reproduce such image or work of art.

  3. As a courtesy to the National Gallery and to enable others to identify and locate information about its collections, we encourage users to include the following credit with any use of one of its open access images: Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

  4. Users may not suggest or imply that the National Gallery of Art endorses, approves, or has participated in any projects utilizing images obtained from the National Gallery of Art.

  5. If you are aware of any rights information associated with an image, please contact us at [email protected].