Copyright free images

Are you looking for images you can use without having to worry about copyright?  Most images you can find on the internet will have some kind of copyright, even if there is nothing to indicate it. It’s important to check before using an image who the copyright holder is, and if you are allowed to use it for your purposes.

To be on the safe side, you can use images that are in the public domain, or listed with a creative commons zero (CC0) licence, which means the copyright holder has waived all rights over their reuse. You can copy or modify the work for personal or commercial purposes and attribution is not required. Other licenses may require an attribution or a link back to the original image, so be sure to check.

Remember you are responsible for checking the copyright of any image you use! If you are not sure if you can use it, always ask the permission of whoever owns the copyright.

If you are looking to make a collage using images, there is a useful factsheet on DACs, explaining how copyright should be viewed.

Some examples of places to search for image sources to use freely include:

  • ArtUK  Art UK is the online home for every public art collection in the UK. Use the Menu and search for an artist. It is then possible to refine the search results by ‘Licence’ to images with Open or Creative Commons Licences.
  • Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery Picture Library  Out-of-copyright collections are freely available under a Creative Commons CC0 licence.
  • British Library  A catalogue of book illustrations, maps and manuscripts found on The copyright status is given below each image.
  • National Gallery  Search the collection of over 2,600 paintings. Mainly it is the out of copyright images that are made available for re-use under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND licence.
  • Science Museum  All collection data and images, where possible, are made available under a Creative Commons licence.
  • Tate  Mainly the out of copyright images are made available under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND licence. It is possible to refine a search to just those images with Creative Commons licences.
  • Wellcome Trust  Thousands of freely licensed digital books, artworks photos and images of historical library materials and museum objects.
  • Biodiversity Heritage Library flikr   The world’s largest open access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives.
  • Raw Pixel    Has many copyright free images, including a good section of high quality public domain images by renown artists available to download.

Some major global art galleries and museums are beginning to make parts of, or their whole collections available via the CC0 licence.

More information about copyright can be found on the library webpages for teaching, or for more info on image resources check the Image resources tab on this blogs home page

The image below is by Karl Blossfeldt, on Raw pixel. Find out more about him on the Whitechapel gallery website, who had an exhibition of his work in 2014.

Eryngium Giganteum (Miss Willmott’s Ghost) enlarged 4 times from Urformen der Kunst (1928) by Karl Blossfeldt. Original from The Rijksmuseum. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel. Public domain CC0 image













Previous related posts:

The Met museum adds thousands of copyright free images

Free online collection of Nature and Botanical Illustrations

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Exhibitions to visit online

With most galleries and museums now closed due to coronavirus, many are upping their online content, and in some cases you can virtually visit the exhibitions. If you’re looking for inspiration, and you would normally visit a gallery or museum, try out some of these exhibitions you can either see the whole exhibition, or parts of, online:

On Being Present, Recovering Blackness in the Uffizi Gallery Florence (part of Black History Month Florence)

Mamma Andersson, David Zwirner

Painting by Numbers, The Works of Ferdinand Bauer. An interesting digital experiment, bringing together online nearly 300 original works by the botanical artist. You can investigate through data visualisation and mapping Bauer’s ability to retain colours in his mind.

Heritage at Risk, exploring natural and man-made threats to cultural heritage

Léon Spilliaert at Royal Academy

Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Catharsis,  Serpentine Gallery

Raphael, Scuderie del Quirinale Rome. ‘Once in a lifetime’ show closed due to coronavirus, some images online here:

Ceramic Art London

Psychedelic video by NOWNESS with Somerset House, to mark the opening of their ‘Mushrooms’ exhibition.

South London Gallery, Bloomberg Contemporaries

Yayoi Kusama Infinity Room, Broad museum Los Angeles, through instagram

Vivian Suter, Camden Arts Centre

Frida Kahlo on Google Arts and Culture

If you’re still not satisfied, you can visit 500 worldwide galleries online with Google Arts and Culture…..


Raphael, The Alba Madonna, (image in public domain)














previous related posts:

Time to vote!

Frida Kahlo resouces




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Lightboxes and Lettering exhibition and display

Just up the road from our Aldgate campus, Bow Arts Nunnery Gallery has an exhibition on about the history of east London’s print industry. ‘Lightboxes and Lettering‘ tells the story of the print industry across the 20th century, focusing on the east London boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Waltham Forest. The exhibition includes historic photographs and printed items as well as print workers’ memories, told through a new collection of oral histories.

A series of events accompanies the exhibition, where you can learn more about the techniques or companies involved.

If you are interested in letterpress, typography, litho printing or the printing industry or  just the history of the local area, this is a great exhibition to visit. It is on until the 29th March 2020.

Aldgate Library  has a display up on the printing industry to celebrate this fascinating exhibition in our local area.

Printing display in Aldgate Library, photo © London Met


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Martin Parr photobooks collection

A bit late for the Show and tell, which is happening this afternoon, but there will still be time to see the display of the Martin Parr Photobook Collection at Late at Tate this evening, in the Reading Rooms at Tate Britain!

The Martin Parr Photobook Collection is a collection of over 12000 photobooks collected by Martin Parr from around the world, focussing on documentary photography and propaganda materials. The collection has recently been acquired by Tate and catalogued by Tate Library and Archive. After today’s events, you will be able to search the collection on Tate Library catalogue and will be accessible for use in the Tate Britain Reading Rooms.

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British and Irish Furniture Makers Online workshop 3rd Feb


British and Irish Furniture Makers Online (BIFMO) is a free open access online resource of thousands of biographical notes of furniture makers nationwide from 1640 onwards.

They are  collaborating with  Layers of London (a website recording the rich layers of London Heritage) to make information about furniture makers accessible alongside their maps. On the 3rd of February there will be a free workshop for volunteers to sign up and help gather information about furniture makers in London and create records for a new collection.

There are 2 workshops to sign up for , one in the afternoon and one in the evening, and they take place at the Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, London.



Related previous posts:


50 years:  London College of Furniture Symposium



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Time to vote!

With the election fast approaching, we have put up a display in Aldgate library tying in Art and Politics (a vast subject!).

Did you know Parliament has its own art collection?  It is jointly owned by the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Some of the art works can be seen during tours of Parliament, however some are in areas not accessible to the public, but can be viewed in virtual tours on the website.  There are also some online exhibitions, including one on Elections & Voting, which has some information about ‘New Dawn’ a contemporary sculpture by Mary Branson commemorating the long campaign that led to some women getting the vote in 1918, and all women in 1928.

The People’s History Museum in Manchester  is the national museum of democracy, and you can find more information and objects related to voting here. Many objects can be found online, by searching their online collection, for example a quick keyword search under ‘democracy’ brings up over 230 items to explore, including political tokens, photographs, badges, leaflets and more.

Not forgetting of course, our own TUC (Trades Union Congress) Library, part of the Special Collections, which is the major research library for the study of trade unions, collective bargaining and labour history.

Art and Politics display at Aldgate Library












Previous related posts

Russian Revolution


John Berger


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Sound archives and exhibitions

South London Gallery: Her Noise

Currently on display at the South London Gallery is a selection of items from the ‘Her Noise’ archive, which is held at London College of Communication as part of their Archives and Special Collections. Her Noise is an investigation into music and sound histories in relation to gender, initiated by Lina Dzuverovic and Anne Hilde Neset in 2001. In 2005 they curated a show which included international artists who used sound, part of which took place at the South London Gallery.

More information about the exhibition here.

Whitechapel Gallery: Sense Sound/Sound Sense

The Whitechapel Gallery’s Archive space is currently showing an exhibition of how artists in the Fluxus movement used music and sound. The items from this display are from the Luigi Bonotto collection in Italy, a vast collection of documents and artworks from the Fluxus movement and more. Much of it can be viewed online, so is worth exploring itself.

Other Useful archives

British Library Sounds

BBC Sound Effects Archive

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay







Previous related posts:

Sound effects

‘Reel to Real’ archival sound project

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Bummock- Artists in Archives

Bummock refers to the unseen part of an Iceberg, and artists Andrew Bracey Danica Maier and Lucy Renton have been rummaging, exploring and making in unseen parts of the Lace Archive, Nottingham over the last couple of years. This is part of a wider project to create artistic responses to unseen parts of archives, which you can read about here.

The resulting artworks are on display at the Constance Howard Gallery, Deptford Town Hall, part of Goldsmiths University of London, alongside items chosen by the artists from the Goldsmiths Textiles Collections.

The opening reception is tonight (Friday 22nd November) 5-8pm, and will feature a live clarinet performance, and the opportunity to buy the corresponding publication at a discounted rate.

Before that, from 4-5 pm, the three artists will  discuss their project.

Further information about the exhibition is here.

If Lace is your things, Aldgate library holds copies of ‘Lace: the magazine and newsletter of the Lace Guild’  from 1970-2017.

Lace journal in Aldgate Library

















Previous related posts:

The South London Gallery Archive

Daylighting event at the Wellcome Collection

London Met Libraries now on Copac

Artists and Archives talk


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Youth Culture

To coincide with the launch of an online archive of over 16000 images of youth culture by the Museum of Youth Culture in partnership with Google Arts and Culture, we have put together a display in Aldgate Library on this subject, using items from the libraries collections.

You can also search Bridgeman Education through the library catalogue for images of many subjects, including youth culture.

Youth Culture Display Aldgate Library










Other useful links

Submit your own images to the Museum of Youth Culture

Saatchi Gallery Rave exhibition

Guardian article on artists and clubbing

UCLA Punk Archive

Previous related posts

Pop Culture – Photographic Youth Music Culture Archive (no longer active, now the museum of youth culture?)


Posted in Databases, Digital online archive, Exhibitions, External archives and libraries, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Creating timelines

Some time ago we posted an article on creating online timelines using a tool called Dipty, which allowed you to create, embed and share free image, video and audio timelines online. This was a very useful tool for teaching and students projects. It has since come to our attention that despite millions of users, this tool no longer exists. However, this article lists some alternatives, and discusses the reasons why Dipty is no more. Thank you to the author for getting in touch and providing such a useful list.

Related articles

Timeline of Art History

Culture Grid: scholarly images & audio


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