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Medieval Images from Smithsonian Open Access

Last month the Smithsonian removed copyright restrictions on about 2.8 million images of its digital collection. What can medievalists find among this collection?

The Smithsonian Open Access has removed copyright restrictions, which means people everywhere can now download, transform and share this open access content for any purpose, for free, without further permission from the Smithsonian. They will continue to add items on an ongoing basis, with more than 3 million images designated as open access by late 2020.

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“Open access is a milestone for the Smithsonian in our efforts to reach, educate and inspire audiences,” said Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III. “Through this initiative, we are empowering people across the globe to reimagine and repurpose our collections in creative new ways.”

The vast archive of images includes objects, manuscripts and artwork from around the medieval world. Here are some of the images now available for medievalists to use.

Roundel embroidered with silk and gold, showing St. Catherine brought to Emperor Maxentius by her jailors. Made in the Low Countries in the 15th century. From the Smithsonian Design Museum – Click here to learn more.
Manuscript page showing King David playing a harp, from a 15th century Ethiopian manuscript. From the National Museum of African Art – Click here to learn more.
Head of a Luohan, made in China in the first half of the 8th century. From the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery – Click here to learn more.
Hunting horn, created between 1494 and 1500 and identify it as a royal gift from Crown Prince Manuel I of Portugal to King Ferdinand V of Castile and Aragon. The ivory came from Sierra Leone. From the National Museum of African Art – Click here to learn more.
14th century Mirror Cover, made from ivory, from the Smithsonian American Art Museum and its Renwick Gallery – Click here to learn more.
Triptych made in early 16th century Ethiopia. Among the figures depicted are St. Mercurius, St. Mary with the Baby Jesus, Archangels St. Michael and St. Gabriel, and Takla Haymanot – from the National Museum of African Art – Click here to learn more.
This triptych is a form of Russian icon made during the twelfth century AD – from the Smithsonian American Art Museum and its Renwick Gallery. Click here to learn more.
Crozier Head, dating from the 13th century – from the Smithsonian American Art Museum and its Renwick Gallery. Click here to learn more.
15th century dagger, possibly made in France – from the Smithsonian Design Museum. Learn more here.
Fragment of a rider, made in early 13th century Iran. From the
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery – Click here to learn more.

To learn more, please visit the Smithsonian Open Access website.

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