"This is a Big Deal!" Open Access Artwork from Cleveland Museum of Art!

Blog Date
Stuart O. Smith, Jr.

This blog post can't capture all the exciting implications of the Wednesday, January 23, 2019, Cleveland Museum of Art (@ClevelandArt) Open Access announcement!

Open Access at the Cleveland Museum of Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art announced on January 23, 2019, that it is an Open Access institution, using the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) designation for high-resolution images and data as related to its collection. At the Cleveland Museum of Art, Open Access means the public now has the ability to  share, collaborate, remix, and reuse images of many as 30,000 public-domain artworks from the CMA’s world-renowned collection of art for commercial and non-commercial purposes. In addition, portions of collections information (metadata) for more than 61,000 artworks, both in the public domain and those works with copyright or other restrictions, works are now available. 

This announcement that I will share information about in this post is just the beginning. It is only a hint of what is to come.

The Open Access partners of the Cleveland Museum of Art at the event showed some intitial uses for the all the Open Access artwork, but the potential for the future goes beyond what was presented on this first day. As the Creative Commons Chief Executive Officer Ryan Merkley (@RyanMerkley - @CreativeCommons) said, "...this is a big deal."

Creative Commons CEO Ryan Merkley: "...this is a big deal."
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Thank You, Jane Alexander

On November 29, 2018, I was fortunate to talk to Cleveland Museum of Art Chief Digital Information Officer Jane Alexander (@JaneCAlexander) at the preview event for the opening of the museum's fall exhibtions, where she told me about the museum's Open Access announcement event. (See my blog post: Cleveland Museum of Art's Two Major Fall 2018 Exhibitions: Georgia O’Keeffe and Catherine de’ Medici’s Valois Tapestries) She knew of my interest in technology and art, so she told me how the museum is now using bitcoin for ticket purchases, and that the Cleveland Museum of Art would be making an important announcement in January about artwork access -- but details were not public yet. I told her that I appreciated that she invited me to the Open Access announcement event, and that I would make a point of attending.

I have also been fortunate to attend many events where the Cleveland Museum of Art has used technology to present their artworks in new and unique ways. Their ArtLens Gallery and ArtLens App exemplify the marriage of art and technology. (Read my many ArtLens blog posts here.) Thank you to the Cleveland Museum of Art staff, who have welcomed me to attend these very interesting events!


The Big Day!

Invitation to the Cleveland Museum of Art's "Exclusive Event"
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I had in my calendar for January 23, 2019, the Cleveland Museum of Art "exclusive event," but did not really know what to expect. It was not until I saw Michael Baron's (@baronadv1) tweet that morning about the Cleveland Museum of Art offering unlimited online access to images, that I began to realize how unique the Open Access announcement would be.



Michael Baron's tweet linked to the article Cleveland Museum of Art launches next-generation open access to artworks and data online that Steven Litt (@Steven_Litt) published at 5:00 AM that morning, which provided details about the announcement, including this very exciting information:

The museum announced it is waiving digital rights to roughly 30,000 of the 61,328 objects in its permanent collection considered to be in the public domain. The designation applies generally to works by artists who have been dead for at least 120 years.

The museum hopes to engage a vast new online audience around the world. It will disseminate images of artworks for use by anyone, anywhere, for any purpose, even if it doesn’t get credit.

The new initiative “will expose millions of virtual visitors to a collection to which they would have previously had limited access,” William Griswold, the museum’s director, said in an interview. “They can borrow from it and do whatever they like with those images, and for me, that’s hugely exciting.’’

He said the museum’s “Open Access” program is a way to bring its mission of creating “transformative experiences through art, ‘for the benefit of all the people forever’ ” into the 21st century. The mission statement quotes the words used by benefactor Jeptha Wade II in 1892 to deed land to the museum.

To show the potential of its Open Access program, the museum engaged with partners including Microsoft, the website Artsy, Wikimedia, Case Western Reserve University and American Greetings.

As I drove to the museum, I became increasingly excited by the opportunity to be one of the first people to not only hear the details about the Open Access artwork, but also to talk to the Cleveland Museum of Art Open Access partners at the demonstration tables.

Attending this event was like a reunion for me, since I saw several people I knew that who are interested in the Cleveland Museum of Art, but who I don't see in person very often.

At the event, attendees were welcomed and given background information about Open Access by the Cleveland Museum of Art Director and President William M. Griswold. Creative Commons Chief Executive Officer Ryan Merkley talked about the leadership shown by the Cleveland Museum of Art staff and board in opening the museum's "works as free and unrestricted for all, everywhere in the world." Cleveland Museum of Art Chief Digital Information Officer Jane Alexander and her staff were commended for their accomplishment, and she introduced the Open Access Launch Partners.

Here are my @sos_jr tweets and retweets with what I and others shared during the event:



Open Access Launch Partners and Sponsors

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Open Access Launch Event Sponsor and Content Partners
Open Access Content Partners and Additional Sponsors

It was great to get a chance to talk to Kevin Goodman (@KevinGoodmanBBN) who is the Managing Director and a Partner of BlueBridge Networks (@BlueBridgeLLC). BlueBridge Networks "supports the server, storage, and connectivity infrastructure for Open Access." Kevin and his wife Tracy are sponsors of the Cleveland Museum of Art's Open Access, along with BlueBridge Networks. (You can see my blog posts about BlueBridge Networks here.)

The best part of the event, and the most important, was to see what the Open Access Launch Partners are creating as the first developers to use Open Access. These early developers are leading the way in using the museum's artwork creatively through this new initiative.

Here is information about the Open Access Launch Partners I met at the event, along with my photos from the event (click on the photos in the tweets to enlarge the photos):




I enjoyed learning about the current work of Pandata team members Chief Data Scientist & Partner Cal Al-Dhubaib (@CAlDhubaib) and Chief Operating Officer & Partner Nicole Ponstingle (@NPonstingle), and meeting Data Scientist Hannah Arnson (@HArnson). I knew Nicole Ponstingle from her past work as the director of marketing at BlueBridge Networks. I met Cal Al-Dhubaib and learned about his founding of Triple Analytics when he made a presentation at two events I attended in 2015. (See my blog posts: LaunchHouse Accelerator Expo (LHXPO) 2015 and @Flashstarts Demo Day 2015 - #FSDDay.)

Thank you, Cal Al-Dhubaib, for explaining Pandata's (@ohPandata) new interactive visualization work with the Cleveland Museum of Art, and to Hannah Arnson for showing me how use the interface in their demonstration.

Here is a description of the Pandata project, and their video, Cleveland Museum of Art Open Access Project - Deconstructing How We Think About Art, that does an excellent job of explaining the project:

Launch Project
We built an interactive visualization that explores the way we write about art. Given a description of over 10,000 pieces, we used an algorithm to arrange each such that pieces that have the most in common are closer. The colors represent the various cultures. Interacting with the points reveals a thumbnail of the piece, which can be clicked to learn more. This visual is a novel way to learn about art and will inspire visitors to engage with the collection in a meaningful way.

Cleveland Museum of Art Open Access Project - Deconstructing How We Think About Art




I tried the Hyland Lab viewer on January 30, 2019:

First, I want to say thanks to the staff at the Hyland Lab (@Hyland - @OnBase) booth for the Google Cardboard Viewer (@GoogleARVR).

I tested the viewer on their CommunityLIVE web page (Hyland.com/Labs), where you can "Take a 360-degree tour of Hyland’s Customer Experience Lounge!"

The Introduction - Customer Experience Lounge YouTube 360 view is best viewed on a Cardboard Viewer with a smart phone using the YouTube app, but will work on other devices.

Secondly, I want to thank @OnBase for sending me a Twitter direct message while I was writting this blog post, confirming that while the Cardboard Viewer is a fun Virtual reality (VR) tool that they shared at the event, the partnership with the Cleveland Museum of Art goes beyond VR to full Augmented reality (AR).

Definitions from Wikipedia:

  • Augmented reality (AR) (Not to be confused with Virtual reality) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real-world are "augmented" by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities, including visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory, and olfactory.

  • Virtual reality (VR) is an interactive computer-generated experience taking place within a simulated environment.

Attendees were able to try out HoloLens Hyland during the Open Access announcement event, but the real excitement will be coming as Hyland continues to develop more in partnership with the museum. Watch their website for updates, and also see the Cleveland Museum of Art's Hyland web page about their partnership:

Launch Project
HoloLens Hyland will consume the CMA API to allow people from all over the globe to view and interact with art in an augmented space. This will be accomplished by building an augmented reality application that can be deployed to a Microsoft HoloLens which will allow users to place holographic representations of artwork in the physical space around them. Hyland will also be displaying the associated information in an interactive manner, which will allow users to learn more about the artwork, the creator of the piece, and more.




I tried out the Artsy: Buy & Sell Original Art app on January 30, 2019:

Artsy’s mission is to expand the art market to support more artists and art in the world.

We are a platform for collecting and discovering art.

"The art world in your pocket Introducing Artsy for iPhone" - I met Artsy Senior Manager of Institutional Partnerships Erica Lohe Lyon. She used her iPhone to show me how you can use it to see how a piece of art would look on your own wall. It's a great way to visuallize how artwork would look in your office or home. See first photo in the above tweet, and note how the iPhone shows the art piece as if it was on the wall.

I tried out the free Artsy: Buy & Sell Original Art app (@Artsy) (see second tweet above). I was able to save in the app's favorites some paintings from the Cleveland Museum of Art, but I could not get the app to work with my iPhone version to demonstrate how the art would look on my wall at home.

Here is a March 3, 2018, article by Fast Company (@FastCompany) that explains how the app can work, and a video demonstration of the app:


Artsy also has a second Artsy Folio app for galleries/museums that have an Artsy Partner Account.



American Greetings

Launch Project 
An American Greetings Creative Team will promote a collage workshop, reimagining images from the CMA collection as part of an all associates event in February, designed to inspire and cultivate creative community in the building, and within Cleveland. Also, AG’s Funny Team, will explore the possibilities of developing new, fun creative content with images from the collection.

American Greetings (@AmGreetings) created some birthday cards to demonstrate how the musuem's artwork could be use for creative commercial purposes. Here are some samples they shared:

American Greetings' Funny Birthday Cards
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American Greetings' Funny Birthday Cards American Greetings' Funny Birthday CardsAmerican Greetings' Funny Birthday CardsAmerican Greetings' Funny Birthday CardsAmerican Greetings' Funny Birthday Cards



Case Western Reserve University

I learned that the Case Western Reserve University Department of Art History and Art (@CWRU - @CWRUartsci) will be using the Cleveland Museum of Art's shared artwork in their art history classes. This newly available way to use the artwork will kick off for the students on April 6, 2019, with a Day of CMA Collage Creation Contest.

CMA Collage Creation Contest: "...winning entries will be displayed in the library’s art gallery as well as they will appear on the Cleveland Museum of Art Tumblr page"

Case Western Reserve University: "Day of CMA Collage Creation Contest"
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Artstor (@Artstor) "is a nonprofit organization committed to enhancing scholarship and teaching through the use of digital images and media."

Launch Project
CMA object images and data will be available to scholars at over 2,000 institutions through the Artstor Digital Library which includes millions of high-quality images for education and research across disciplines from a wide variety of contributors around the world.

It looks like it is still being set up, so in the future, take a look at the Artstor "VIEW IN THE DIGITAL LIBRARY The Cleveland Museum of Art" link.




More partners, sponsors, and additional information can be found on the official Open Access Launch Partnerships web page at: ClevelandArt.org/Open-Access-Partners

Here is a list of direct links to all of the current Open Access Launch Partners. I also added their Twitter names that you can follow for more information:



Video from Livestream: Cleveland Museum of Art Open Access Announcement

If you missed the Open Access announcement, or wanted to watch the announcement again, you are in luck, since the Cleveland Museum of Art provided the video on their CMA Livestream web page. I have embedded the video here:

CMA Open Access Announcement (OC) from Carpe Diem Media Services on CMA Livestream web page.


Creative Commons Chief Executive Officer Ryan Merkley's remarks from the Open Access announcement event can be found in the Creative Commons (@CreativeCommons) article: “Transformative experiences through art, for the benefit of all the people forever.”



Open Access at the Cleveland Museum of Art

Open Access + CMA
"This short film was made entirely using Open Access artworks and music"

Be sure to visit the museum's official web page for all things Open Access at the museum at: ClevelandArt.org/Open-Access

Open Access at Cleveland Museum of Art
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Some of the informational links you will find on the Open Access web page include:



CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication

 Creative Commons Zero (CC0): Waives all rights to work worldwide under copyright law
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The Cleveland Museum of Art, as an Open Access institution, is using the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) designation to share 30,000 public-domain artworks in its collection. Collections information (metadata) for more than 61,000 artworks, both in the public domain and those works with copyright or other restrictions, is now also available.

See the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication web page for more information about this designation, where the museum waives all rights to the work worldwide under copyright law.



Tweets & Retweets After Open Access Announcement Event

Here are my @sos_jr tweets and retweets that were shared after the event. I highly recommend taking a look at what was shared, and retweeting anything that you are interested in, so others can learn about Open Access at the Cleveland Museum of Art.



What Others Say

Here are other articles and blog posts about the new Open Access opportunities that are now available. This is such a big announcement that a lot is being written -- what I list here is only a portion of it. I recommend that you follow the #CMAOpenAccess hastag and follow the museum on Twitter as @ClevelandArt to learn more as new developments occur.



Related Blog Posts

The Cleveland Museum of Art is a world leader in using technology to complement the public's interactions with its artwork. Here are my ArtLens blog posts that tell how the museum uses technology using their ArtLens app and ArtLens Gallery:


There are many more blog posts that I have written about the Cleveland Museum of Art (read them here), and the other museums in University Circle (read them here).

In addition to following the museum's @ClevelandArt twitter feed, I also recommend following @InTheCircle on Twitter, and exploring University Circle's website: UniversityCircle.org



Fun Time! Looking Forward to the Future!

I had a great time experimenting with some of the technology and art presentations that I learned about at the Open Access announcement, and look forward to learning more!