Image Search Engines
Google Images is a quick and easy way to find lots of images from web pages across the globe. But it only searches web content that it can find -- many images are actually hidden in databases or archives (whether freely available or in Cornell's subscription databases). The quality of images - size, resolution, description, usage rights - also varies considerably on the open web. Use Google, but don't rely on it for all image searches. Explore this page and Cornell's image databases for more high-quality options.
- Vecteezy (formerly Compfight)Image search engine that locates high-resolution images with Creative Commons licenses for use in presentations, blogs, etc. Also retrieves stock photos.
- FotoliaFotolia is a world-leading image bank, providing instant access to over 42 million images, vectors, illustrations and video clips. It is powered by a diverse international community of artists, graphic designers and agencies who bring you tens of thousands of new and unique images, illustrations and videos every single day
- Use Google's web search to find hidden image collections. Search example:
KEYWORD image (archive OR gallery OR collection OR database) site:.edu
- Google Image SearchTip: Use advanced search or facets to limit by image size, images within a domain/site (e.g. site: cornell.edu), and usage rights.
- TinEye Reverse Image SearchSubmit an image to TinEye to find out where it came from, how it is being used, if modified versions of the image exist, or to find higher resolution versions.
- UnsplashFree high-resolution photos.10 new photos will be sent to your email address every 10 days if you subscribe.
Flickr - a large database of images
Flickr is a public photo-sharing site with billions of images. It is a rich resource to find images for your research (news events, places, people, etc.). Flickr users can opt to share their images with others under creative commons licenses (alternative to copyright).
- Flickr Advanced SearchLimit to date, content type, media type, and creative commons licenses.
- Flickr Creative CommonsFlickr users can opt to use a creative commons license to share their work with others.
- Flickr: The CommonsImages with no known copyright (public domain) from cultural institutions world-wide.
Freely Usable Images - Resources
- Creative CommonsCreative Commons is a nonprofit organization that develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation. You can also find CC searches in Google Images (under the gear icon in Advanced Search) and other sites like Flickr
- Wikimedia CommonsA database of over 9 million freely usable media files to which anyone can contribute.
- Library of CongressThe Library of Congress y provides free and open access to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience.
- Art Institute of Chicago Public Domain ImagesMore than 44,000 digital images from the Art Institute of Chicago collections. Images are being added on an ongoing basis.
- Brooklyn Museum Online CollectionsBrooklyn Museum's digital gallery contains over 90,000 digitized images from its collections. Users can browse, save, research, comment and tag. Wide-range of cultures, regions, and temporal periods represented.
- Calisphere, University of California's digital primary sourcesThe University of California's free public gateway to a world of primary sources. More than 200,000 digitized items — including photographs, documents, newspaper pages, political cartoons, works of art, diaries, transcribed oral histories, advertising, and other unique cultural artifacts — reveal the diverse history and culture of California and its role in national and world history.
- EuropeanaIncludes images from Europe's museums, libraries, archives and audio-visual collections.
- Gallica Bibliothèque Nationale de FranceDocuments and images from the Bibliothèque Nationale.
- Getty Open ImagesImages of works in the J. Paul Getty Museum. The Getty makes available, without charge, all available digital images to which the Getty holds the rights or that are in the public domain to be used for any purpose. No permission is required.
- Google Arts & CultureGoogle's "collaboration with some of the world’s most acclaimed art museums to enable people to discover and view more than a thousand artworks online in extraordinary detail."
- Harvard Digital CollectionsHarvard Digital Collections provides free, public access to more than 6 million objects digitized from our collections - from ancient art to modern manuscripts and audio visual materials.
- Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online CatalogContains catalog records and digital images representing a rich cross-section of still pictures held by the Prints & Photographs Division and, in some cases, other units of the Library of Congress.
- Life Photo Archive hosted by GoogleSearch millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive (1750s to today).
- National Gallery of Art | NGA ImagesThis repository of digital images documenting the National Gallery of Art collections allows users to search, browse, share, and download images believed to be in the public domain. More than 20,000 open access digital images up to 3000 pixels each are available free of charge for download and use.
- New York Public Library Digital GalleryProvides free and open access to over 800,000 images digitized from the The New York Public Library's vast collections, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints, photographs and more.
- Paris MuséesHundreds of thousands of images in the public domain from Paris museums.
- Rijksmuseum in AmsterdamOnline museum of its works. These high-resolution images can be freely used and remixed.
- Smithsonian Institution Collections SearchSearch archival, print and digital content.
- Swiss National Library Image DocumentsPhotographs, prints, posters, art, historic monuments preservation
- VADS - online resource for visual artsContains over 100,000 images that are freely available and copyright cleared for use in learning, teaching and research in the UK.
- Victoria & Albert MuseumProvides online access to over 265,000 images of objects in their collection.
- Yale University ImagesYale University Library Digital Images Database
Directories & Catalogs
- American History OnlineAmerican History Online, a project of the Andrew W. Mellon foundation and the University of Illinois, provides scholars with access to distributed historical digital library collections. Formerly an initiative of the Andrew W. Mellow foundation and the Digital Library Federation.
- Content DMIndex of Digital Image Collections
- OAIsterUnion catalog of digital resources (including images)
What is Creative Commons?
Creative Commons helps creators share their work. With a Creative Commons license, you keep your copyright but allow people to copy and distribute your work provided they give you credit -- and only on specificed conditions (e.g. non-commercial, non-derivative, share-alike).
CC image search (select "images" from the "search content" menu)
Search by Color!
The Library of Congress has created a way to search some of its image collections by color palette:
U.S. Government Images
Tip! Images produced by the federal government are in the public domain. You can use them without seeking permission. To be certain, check image rights statements.
Search Google Images and limit to .gov
Search for: "dorothea lange" site: .gov
"White Angel Breadline" by Dorothea Lange. Source: The National Archives (archives.gov)
Search for: mars site:.gov
Victoria Crater at Meridiani Planum. NASA/JPL/UA.
Other NASA images
NYPL Digital Gallery
Gillray. "Maniac's Ravings, or Little Boney in a Strong Fit," 1803.
Source: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, Cartoon Collection.