Walters Art Museum goes CC0

In 2012, the Walters Art Museum, in Baltimore, Maryland, became one of the first American cultural institutions to adopt an open license model for their digitized collections. Using a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license, they released over 18,000 images into the OpenGLAM world. These images were not only available via the Walters website, but, also on Wikimedia Commons.

Since their uploads to Wikimedia, the images have been used in over 4,098 Wikimedia project pages, including Wikipedia articles in over 50 languages. In June 2015, those pages were viewed over 8.4 million times!

While those numbers are impressive, today marks yet another milestone for OpenGLAM: The Walters Art Museum has released their digitized images and metadata under a CC0 license.


Let’s get this party started! Walters goes CC0!! (“Merry Company” by Jan van Bijlert, ca. 1630)

You can see their updated statement on their website here and access their metadata via their API. Finally, you can see their statement on their Rights & Reproductions page here. Now, we are in the process of updating the licensing on Wikimedia Commons.

By releasing their metadata and images under a CC0 license, the Walters has made an unprecedented move in the United States GLAM world. The Walters is a museum that celebrates its collection as being a part of the public trust – a collection that is made as accessible as possible to the public. Their collection was donated to the City of Baltimore and is practically “owned” by the people.

The museum has no admission fees and encourages creative reuse of their collection through innovative events such as annual hack-a-thons, which are implemented with support from Wikimedia District of Columbia. For online visitors, they encourage interaction between the visitor, the staff and the artwork. Online visitors are encouraged to email curatorial staff with questions and have the ability to download images for free, create their own online collection and tag artworks for discovery by other online visitors.

A big “Huzzah!” to the Walters Art Museum and their tireless staff and board of directors, for helping to make this a reality.

Special thanks to Dylan Kinnett, Manager of Web and Social Media at the Walters. Kinnett has been working with myself and OpenGLAM volunteers, since 2011, to help make the Walters Art Museum’s collection one of the most accessible on earth.