The best places to find high-resolution public domain art and illustration

Finding public domain images at a good enough resolution to print can be challenging, but here’s a list of the best places to source high-quality art and illustration.

14 December 2020

Open culture Public domain


Publications and blogs

Public Domain Review and Open Culture are great starting points for public domain content, showcasing the most interesting and unusual cultural works on the web.

Aggregators

These sites collect the best public domain images and make them available as curated collections, often retouching and cleaning them up in the process. Recommended if you don’t fancy wading through millions of images yourself.

Artvee – Thousands of freely downloadable public domain artworks.

RawPixel – Free and premium stock images, as well as an extensive collection of free, high-quality public domain artwork.

Archive.org – Vast collection of music, images, video and more. So large it’s impossible to browse – lots of the sources below use Archive.org for storage, and it’s often easier to find content through them rather than going directly.

Sources

Art Institute Chicago - Over 50k public domain images available. Not high-resolution.

Biodiversity Heritage Library – Explore nearly 250k botanical books, documents and manuscripts.

British Library Flickr collection – Over a million free images from The British Library. Not high resolution.

Brooklyn Museum – Lots of public domain American, European and Asian art. Not high resolution.

The Cleveland Museum of Art - Nearly 37,000 public domain artworks and images.

Digital Commonwealth – Explore historical collections from libraries, museums, and archives across Massachusetts

Edinburgh University Collections – Large collection of drawings, art, photos and manuscripts.

Getty Museum – Greek, Roman, and Etruscan art from the Neolithic to Late Antiquity; European art from the Middle Ages to the early twentieth century.

Glasgow School of Art – Explore artworks, architectural drawings, design work and archive material from prominent artists including Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Harvard Library – Browse the libraries and archives of Harvard University.

Iowa University Digital Library – More than a million digital objects from the university archives.

Library of Congress Digital Collections – Explore the archives of the largest library in the world.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art – Thousands of high-resolution public domain art and photography.

Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa Tongarewa) – Browse 800,000 artworks, taonga, photographs, collection objects, and botanical and zoological specimens from Te Papa’s collections.

National Gallery of Art – Over 54,000 artworks, prints, drawings, sculptures and more. Not high resolution.

NYPL Digital Collections – Explore over 900k items digitised from The New York Public Library’s collections. Many, but not all are available as high-resolution downloads.

The Rijksmuseum – The national museum of the Netherlands. Explore over 700k public domain artworks.

RSID Museum – Over 80k public domain art and design images.

Statens Museum for Kunst - The national gallery for Denmark, large collection of art and objects.

UMass Amherst Libraries – Large collection of rare books and manuscripts.

University of British Columbia – Explore over 240k photos, books, newspapers, maps, videos, theses and more.

Wellcome Library – Thousands of medical and health-related archives and images.

Yale University Library Digital Collections – Huge collection of images, photos, maps, documents, rare books and more.

Know of any more sources? Please do let me know.