Open Access

Smithsonian unlocks millions of digital items through new Open Access platform

A new Open Access platform enables anyone to download almost 2.8 million assets from the Smithsonian museum group’s digitised collection for free and without the need to seek permission.

As part of the largest and most interdisciplinary open access programme in the sector, a vast array of images and data – which were previously copyright protected – are now easily accessible to anyone in the world.

Assets from the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, nine research centres, libraries, archives, and the National Zoo can be downloaded, transformed and shared for any purpose and without incurring any cost.

“Open access is a milestone for the Smithsonian in our efforts to reach, educate and inspire audiences,” according to Smithsonian secretary, Lonnie G. Bunch III. “Through this initiative, we are empowering people across the globe to reimagine and repurpose our collections in creative new ways.”

The Smithsonian will perpetually add items to the platform, with more than three million images set to be designated as open access by late 2020.

Alongside the dedicated Smithsonian Open Access platform, content can be also be dowloaded via Creative Commons, Google Arts & Culture, Wikipedia and other digital platforms; all of which, the Smithsonian hopes, will increase the reach and impact of these collections.

“Open access exemplifies the Smithsonian’s core mission: the ‘increase and diffusion’ of knowledge our institution has fostered for nearly 175 years,” stated John Davis, interim director of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

Click here to explore Smithsonian Open Access.