Yale University to share cultural catalog online for free

art online

Yale University in New Haven, Conn. recently announced a new open access policy under which it will make high quality digital images of millions of items in its museums, archives and libraries available online for free. No license will be required for transmissions of the images, and no limitations will be placed on their use.

More than 250,000 images can already be viewed in an online catalog, which was developed by the Yale Office of Digital Assets and Infrastructure.

Images viewable online under the new policy include a small Egyptian limestone stela with a hieroglyphic inscription in ink from Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History, a late 15th century Javanese gold kris handle in the form of a demon from the Yale University Art Gallery's Indo-Pacific collection, and a watercolor by William Blake from the Yale Center for British Art.

The aim of the new policy, according to a university press release, is to make it possible for scholars, artists, students and others worldwide to access the collections for study, publication, teaching, and inspiration.

"The open access policy allows us to more fully harness the potential of digital and networked technologies in service to scholarship, as well as to creatively use and reuse of our rich cultural heritage," Meg Bellinger, director of the Yale Office of Digital Assets and Infrastructure, said in a statement. "It frees us to concentrate on our core mission to create, preserve, and disseminate knowledge in digital form."

According to Bellinger, it will take several years to make all of the images available online. The university's collections include over 10 million volumes and countless manuscripts and documents in 18 libraries, more than 12 million specimens and objects in the Peabody Museum of Natural History, and major art collections at the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art.

"Sharing our artistic resources more fully across Yale and well beyond its campus is a top priority," Jock Reynolds, the Henry J. Heinz II Director of the Yale University Art Gallery, said in a statement. "Through this new university policy, scholars, artists, teachers, and students worldwide will now be able to more fully engage our collections for active learning and use in publications, classrooms, and creative projects without incurring any fees whatsoever, eliminating what has previously been, for many, a daunting financial hurdle."