Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Finding Images Online
Finding images online can seem easy, however images that are found with a quick Google search may not contain all of the artist and copyright information you would need to properly cite and use that image. Many of the online collections listed below are collections of public domain or open access images or those that you can use without having ask the copyright holder for permission (you should still cite these images though!). The image collections from libraries, museums, and institutions will often have more accurate metadata and information associated with the image so that you can properly cite it.
Image Source: Marsha P. Johnson pickets Bellevue Hospital to protest treatment of street people & gays. Retrieved from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-5fa8-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
Below is a list of websites to search for images that allow you to search by specific rights and restrictions. However, keep in mind that just because it is on the internet does not mean that the image is in the public domain. Always check the site where you found your image for copyright and/or licensing information. Images found on Google are not owned by Google, so you should always trace your image back to the original URL in a Google image search to discover the original owner and/or exhibitor. A safe rule is to assume that any image you find online is covered by copyright unless it is labeled as having a creative commons license or is in the public domain.
Flickr Images (freely available)
Under "The Commons," cultural institutions that have reasonably concluded that a photograph is free of copyright restrictions are invited to share such photograph under their new usage guideline called "no known copyright restrictions."
Flickr Images (with restrictions)
Many Flickr users have chosen to offer their work under a Creative Commons license, and you can browse or search through content under each type of license.
A wide array of images from across the disciplines, but quality can be uneven and may not include attribution of original source. If you plan to post images found via Google on the Web or use them in a publication, ensure you have permissions from the original source.
Reverse Image Search
Reverse Image Search
If you've found an image but forgot where it came from, TinEye and Google Images have a reverse image search that allows you to upload an image and see where else it appears on the web.
TinEye uses image recognition to do a reverse image search. Upload an image and TinEye will bring up results of where else your image appears on the web.
In addition to searching images through Google Images, you can also drag and drop an image to do a reverse image search to see where else that image appears on the web.
Public Access Image Collections
Online Image Collections
Below is a list of websites to search for images that are curated by libraries, museums, and other cultural institutions.
Getty Open Content Images
The Getty has made almost 100,000 images of its repositories available for use as open content.
Library of Congress Image Collections
This collection contains a mix of restricted and unrestricted works. However, each subcollection has detailed information regarding usage restrictions.
LIFE Photo Archive
Google also hosts an archive of millions of photographs from the LIFE, stretching from the 1750s to today.
Metropolitan Museum of Art Open Access for Scholarly Content
The Met's Open Access for Scholarly content (OASC) initiative provides free access to images of artwork in the collection that the Museum believes to be in the public domain. Intended for scholarly use, open-access images are identified with an [OASC] icon, and available for download.
National Gallery of Art: NGA Images
This website from the National Gallery of art contains over 45,000 open access images available for download and scholarly use.
New York Public Library Digital Gallery
Over 800,000 images with free and open access; a diverse representation of NYPL's holdings
U.S. Government Photos and Images
A collection of government photos and images by topic. While some photos are public domain, others may require permissions. Please pay attention to any disclaimers.
Open Access Image Websites
Open Access Image Collections
Below is a list of websites to search for images that include images available for free and open access or fall within the public domain.
Image*After hosts a large collection of free photos for download and use.
A searchable site dedicated to providing free images to artists. All images are downloadable, printable, and non-watermarked.
The Open Photo Project
This platform hosts a collection of images for free use under Creative Commons licensing.
Pond5 Public Domain Project
Media sharing website Pond5 has created a public domain project, offering thousands of audio, video, and image files for open use.
Source for public domain image and audiovisual files, with information about using the files legally and fairly.