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The Walters Art Museum Removes Copyright Restrictions from more than 10,000 Images

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An upgraded website makes it easier to browse the collection, search for objects, create online art collections, and research conservation records and exhibition histories

The Walters Art Museum announces the launch of its redesigned works of art website with the removal of copyright restrictions on more than 10,000 online artwork images through a Creative Commons license. In addition to being able to download these images for free, the site introduces a new look and feel, and enhanced searching, tagging and community collections features. The website now has additional information about the artworks, including nearly a century of history concerning exhibitions and conservation treatments. It is also substantially more accessible to users with disabilities due to its increased compliance with the United States government’s internet accessibility standards.

“By adding conservation histories and exhibition records to our works of art site, the Walters is demonstrating its belief that openness and transparency are key components to holding artworks in the public trust,” said Director Gary Vikan. “As an additional element to eliminating admissions fees at the Walters, the works of art site does away with barriers of access to the museum’s collection and allows a depth and quality of information on artworks that will appeal not only to scholars, but also to art enthusiasts, students and the casual online visitor.”

A goal of the works of art site is to make the Walters’ artworks better known and shared with national and international audiences. Website visitors from around the globe can become online curators by selecting a favorite piece of art, clicking a button and adding the artwork to a personal collection that can be shared via Twitter and Facebook.

“Our viewership has increased by over 240% since 2007 when we first started putting art objects online. The Walters’ website has received almost one million unique visits this year with the works of art site contributing 24% of that viewership,” said Manager of Web and Social Media Dylan Kinnett. “We hope that this percentage will continue to increase as new users share images on social networks, tag objects and curate their own exhibitions.”

The upgrade to the Walters’ works of art website was funded by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Design and implementation support was provided by Fastspot.

The works of art site is at http://art.thewalters.org/. A video tour introduction to the updated works of art website is available at http://thewalters.org/articles/entry.aspx?id=89. The Creative Commons License the Walters has chosen to use is explained in more detail at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ .

The Walters Art Museum is located in downtown Baltimore’s historic Mount Vernon Cultural District at North Charles and Centre streets. Its permanent collection includes ancient art, medieval art and manuscripts, decorative objects, Asian art, and Old Master and 19th-century paintings.

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