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Getty Museum and Yale Art Center Are Offering Easy Access to Thousands of Images Online

Today, more and more museums, archives, and other arts-related institutions have opted to digitize their collections. Once reproduced, many offer these images to the public by publishing them on their websites. While having accessibility to countless collections is impressive enough, the International Image Interoperability Framework (aka IIIF) has taken this technological phenomenon to the next level.

IIIF allows users to pull images from different databases and websites in order to observe them as side-by-side comparisons. This allows for easy analysis that would otherwise require multiple windows, websites, and back-and-forth clicks. Already, major arts institutions have hopped on board the IIIF bandwagon, with the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Yale Centre for British Art being the most recent recruits.

Using the IIIF application program interface is a straightforward process. When viewing works from the Getty or the Yale Centers online collections, all you have to do is click the IIIF's playful blue-and-red logo toward the bottom of the webpage. Once activated, this will open the images in Mirador, an open-source image viewer. Alternatively, you can also simply drag and drop the icon from the online collections into the viewer.

To make the most of this new technology, the Getty Museum and the Yale Center for British Art have released thousands (30,000 and 70,000, respectively) of IIIF-compatible images on their websites. By publishing the public domain pictures, the institutions hope to facilitate research and prompt users to think outside the box. “By adopting the IIIF,” Matthew Hargraves, the Yale Center’s chief curator of art collections, explains in a press release, “our images can now travel beyond the confines of our own website and become fully interoperable with images from other collections, greatly enhancing the ability to pursue research in the digital environment.”

International Image Interoperability Framework, or IIIF, allows individuals to easily compare artwork from the collections of different institutions, like The Getty Museum and the Yale Center for British Art.


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