by Erinn Batykefer

Bridgeman Art Library is an incredible resource that makes the world’s artistic, cultural, and historical images searchable and accessible from a single platform.  The organization partners with museums, artists, and collectors around the world to license photographic transparencies of cultural works and make them available online through the Bridgeman Art Library.  In 2012, they celebrate their 40th anniversary.

All images available on the Bridgeman site are copyrighted, either by Bridgeman itself or by the collecting institution, so these works aren’t freely available for commercial purposes (see links below for more on Bridgeman’s use policies).   Library itself, however, is a fascinating and easily searchable database that can be used by libraries and artists for research, quick reference, and inspiration.

As you can see from the quote below, making art accessible is a large part of the Bridgeman ethos; to that end, all images in the database are fully cataloged with both official metatada and comprehensive keywords that make searching simple.

From the About Bridgeman page online:

With images from over 8,000 collections and more than 29,000 artists, we represent international museums, galleries and artists by providing a central source of fine art for image users

Founded in 1972, the Bridgeman Art Library works with museums, art galleries and artists to make the best art available for reproduction. The result is an outstanding archive of images drawn from collections throughout the world, all of which are available for licensing.

Every subject, concept, style and medium is represented, from the masterpieces of national museums to the hidden treasures of private collections. Fine art is just one of the sources of images; design, antiques, maps, architecture, furniture, glass, ceramics, anthropological artefacts and many others also feature in the collection.

We aim to make these images accessible for every user; each one has been catalogued with full picture data and key-worded to make searching easy, even for those with little art knowledge.

Screen shot of results for “van Gogh.” Each image includes a comprehensive list of searchable tags and other metadata, and icons that allow users to download previews, and add images to their personal “lightbox.”

Want More?

  • Read more about Bridgeman use and licensing policies | US Terms and Conditions, Copyright
  • Explore new Bridgeman Art Library collections from the  Kimball Museum, Free Library of Philadelphia & more | New US Collections
  • Browse the newest collections and artists and learn more about competitions | News and Features
  • Consider registering online for access to more than 400,000 images and the ability to create, store and send your favorite images as a personal lightbox | Register

Do you use the Bridgeman Art Library for reference or inspiration?  Tell us about it!  Connect on Twitter, Facebook, or leave a comment below.


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