In honor of Fair Use week, here is a handy list of free digital images that can be used for educational (non-commercial) purposes. If you ever need a high quality image for a paper or presentation, check out the following sites.
Remember! Everything shows up in a Google Image search – that includes digital copies that have been manipulated in all sorts of ways. If you want to see what the original work of art looks like, go to the source! The source is usually the museum in which it’s held, or a database like Artstor where the images are taken by professional photographers.
The Rijksmuseum offers high-res digital downloads free for non-commercial use. https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/rijksstudio
LACMA has about 20,000 high-res digital downloads for any use. http://collections.lacma.org/
Yale Digital Commons has 250,000 images “without license.” http://discover.odai.yale.edu/ydc/
Wikimedia Commons tries to aggregate a number of institutions’ free content. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
The National Gallery of Art offers high-res downloads for non-commercial use. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
Almost everything in the Flickr Commons is downloadable. http://www.flickr.com/commons/
A compilation of sources from Brown University. The list is annotated and includes notes when images are freely available: https://sites.google.com/a/brown.edu/resources-in-art-and-architecture-on-the-web/image-resources/image-resources-vendors-museums-etc
University of Colorado, Boulder: http://cuart.colorado.edu/resources/vrc/find/ (scroll down to the “Find Images Elsewhere on the Web”)
NGA Images (National Gallery of Art in Washington DC)
LACMA unrestricted images collection:
The Walters Art Museum
The British Museum Free Non-Commercial Use Images:
UCLA : You might also find some use in the Creative Commons, Open Content, & Public Domain images tab of the Image Resources research guide at: http://guides.library.ucla.edu/content.php?pid=126509&sid=4342604.
Currier Museum of Art: A quick resource guide for fair use images here: http://currierartlibrary.wordpress.com/databases/image-collections/
Art Institute of Chicago Ryerson and Burnham Libraries. Another great resource for digital images http://digital-libraries.saic.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/mqc
Getty Open Content Program: High resolution images of works from the Getty Museum and Getty Research Institute that are in the public domain and may be used freely. The Getty Research Institute recently added 5,400 images to the Open Content Program. http://blogs.getty.edu/iris/5400-images-from-getty-research-institutes-special-collections-now-available-as-open-content/