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Art, Design, and Art History: Finding Images

A guide for students researching in the areas of fine art, art history, design, digital arts, and architecture

Image Databases

Night cat, Rafael Zabaleta Fuentes, 1956A list of just some of the many and growing institutitional digital collections on the web. Start your image searches here.

Log into Esearch to access ARTstor 

See the box to the right to learn how to cite images in your paper or presentation. For more information about intellectual property rights surrounding the use of images and further digital collection resources, explore the College Art Association site.  

Painting: Night Cat, Rafael Zabaleta Fuentes, 1956 

ARTstor UT-ONLY Access 

ARTstor is a database of over one million digital images encompassing architecture, painting, sculpture, photography, decorative arts and material culture. Save and share images, cite images easily for research, and create personal collections and presentations using OIV (Offline Image Viewer) or PowerPoint. For assistance, contact Art Librarian Leslie Vega,


This Contemporary image database aims to mirror music and other "recommendation" based sites through what they call the "Art Genome Project," a growing data-set of categories that connect artworks for serendipitous exploration.

CAA list of Free Images for Academic/Scholarly Use

Creative Commons Search

Creative Commons offers access to search services provided by other independent organizations such as Flickr and Wikimedia Commons.

Digital Scriptorium

Google Art Project

An aggregate of 151 art collections from museums around the world set in a dynamic user friendly platform. View or create shared personal collections for research and inspiration.

LACMA Collections

Visual Arts Data Service (UK)

VADS is the online resource for visual arts offering a portfolio of visual art collections of over 100,000 images that are freely available and copyright cleared for use in learning, teaching and research in the UK.

Yale Digital Commons

How to cite images

Each style format (MLA, Chicago, APA, etc.) has it's own specific way of citing an image. When you are including an image in your paper or presentation, no matter where you got the image from, you need to cite your source as you would if you were taking a quote out of a book, article, or website. 

How to cite images in:

Chicago (search for "illustrations")

MLA (scroll down to "A Painting, Sculpture, or Photograph")

APA (there is no “official” APA citation style for paintings or other works of art, but the APA Style Blog recently addressed this question in a blog post.) 

Rule of thumb: if you are confused about formatting, make sure to include all pieces of information to the best of your ability (title, author, date, repository or database, museum/institution or other website you got the image from, copyright info)

Copyright cosiderations for using images in your published papers or presentations:

US Copyright Office: How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work (PDF)

Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States (Cornell Chart)

Code Of Best Practices In Fair Use In the Visual Arts

Digital Image Rights Computator (DIRC)

Developed by the Visual Resources Association, the Digital Image Rights Computator (DIRC) program assists the user to assess the intellectual property status of a specific image documenting a work of art, a designed object, or a portion of the built environment so that the user can make informed decisions regarding the intended educational uses of that image.