With the launch of Smithsonian Open Access, the Archives would like to invite you to engage with our content in new and meaningful ways. Open access allows ease of re-use of most of our collections material that falls within the public domain. Items marked with a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) designation are available for direct download and responsible, limitless use, free of charge and with no pesky permissions process. For more information see Smithsonian’s Open Access FAQ.
So far, the Archives has identified roughly 2,000 assets as CC0, including photographs of expositions, early Smithsonian exhibitions, and Washington, D.C. buildings, curators’ annual reports, Board of Regents’ minutes, and scientific drawings, illustrations, and field books. See below for a selection of the Archives’ open access content, or go directly to the Smithsonian’s new Open Access portal, where you will be able to download high resolution TIFF files. Don’t just a put a bird on it…put our bird on it.
Our immediate focus has been on large groupings of material that easily satisfy all criteria for a CC0 designation. Identifying CC0 content will be an ongoing process, and we will be systematically reviewing all of our existing catalog records in the coming months in an effort to make more content available as open access. Some of the content we share on our website does not satisfy our current technical requirements for open access materials at the Smithsonian. For example, compound objects that display as image sets, such as journals or multi-page letters, are currently ineligible, but hopefully we’ll have a fix for that soon. This is just the beginning, and we’ll keep you posted as we add more material!