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A World of Digital Pictures


photo via flickr by tuppusphoto via flickr by tuppusWe here at AskNYPL get regular requests for digital images on different topics and we're always happy to share the New York Public Library's very own Digital Gallery. While the NYPL Digital Gallery does a wonderful job with its collection, making things easy to find and accessible, we don't always have the content folks are looking for. These instances lead us outside NYPL's resources and we've found some spectacular image resources.

So, here are my top 10 non-NYPL online digital photo collections and image archives in no particular order, along with some honorable mentions.

1. NYC Municipal Archives
The city provides online access to over 870,000 images including collections from The New York City Fire Department (FDNY), NYC Parks, Ports & Terminals, Maps, and Bridges. I've spent hours looking at Police Department Evidence and Tax Photos. Also, interesting, the Sanitation and Street Cleaning collection has some fun stuff!

2. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online
Several Cartoon Drawing Collections, Ansel Adams, Baseball Cards, Gladstone Collection of African American Photographs, Wright Brothers Negatives, plus so much more. The Library of Congress continues to add to their online picture resources and to surprise me with their wonderful collections.

3. National Park Service Digital Image Archive
Explore your National Parks virtually! Yellowstone, Denali, The Grand Canon (flickr), The Everglades, The National Park Service has photos from Alaska to Florida. The interface is a big clunky and there aren't many photos on the main page. I included the NPS image guide because it links out to the individual park websites with the good stuff! The individual parks maintain their own photo galleries and that's where the fun is.

State parks often have some fun photos in their online galleries. If you do a quick search using the state name along with 'state parks' will generally get you a link for the state park office website. If the park doesn't have 'photo gallery' or 'image collection' on their homepage, look for links called 'explore,' 'education,' or 'multimedia.' NYS Parks Photo Gallery

4. National Geographic Photography
If this list were in a particular order, National Geographic Photography galleries would probably take the top spot for lovely to look at photos. National Geographic still lives up to its reputation for spectacular images even in an online environment. The photography collection has several galleries dedicated to their finest photos. It's easy to get lost in these terrific photographs. The 'Pictures We Love' and 'Travel 365' are my favorite galleries, but any of the 'Best of' galleries are great too!

Don't forget National Geographic Kids. Their photo gallery has some great stuff too: Women Scientist and Explorers, Awesome Athletes, Best of Kids, National Parks, plus they also have some other fun stuff and places to explore.

5. europeana
Discover European culture on a digital platform. A collection of many of the leading European digital images and resources are available through europeana. This site works better searching than the browse features many digital collections rely on, but if you click on 'Exhibitions' on the top you can browse the different photos in a more serendipitous fashion. The europeana site is in English but clicking outside the site to one of the contributing institutions, you might need to toss the new URL into a translation service.

6. ARKive
Explore these photos with the entire family! Everyone will love exploring these top quality photographs of endangered wildlife and watch videos of animals. Uncover insects that roam the desert or learn about the reptiles that roam the rainforest. There is a lot to discover on this site. You can explore by animal type, geographic location, eco-regions, their place on the conservation list or even find resources based on age group.

7. Smithsonian Collections Search Center
Smithsonian Collections Search Center is a fun way to explore the museums from afar. The Items on Exhibit feature allows users to see the materials currently on display at the different museums. I generally jump to the Browse by Category option or explore their 'Search Highlights' section. Plus, if you'd like to contribute, the collection welcomes you to tag the images to help make things easier to find.

8. Google Art Project
Google always seems to get it right. The Google Art Project has a huge collection of popular paintings from almost 200 collections from museums all over the world, which include big name artists, and over 36,000 individual artworks. With the smooth and easy to use interface, you'll be happily lost with the high quality images. The project seems especially fun on tablet computers and smart devices.

9. MIT's Visualizing Cultures
My colleague Raymond Pun recently introduced me to MIT's Visualizing Cultures. This image collection allows you to discover cultures via “Image-Driven Scholarship.” The photos are high resolution and often accompanied by scholarly works, a visual narrative, and a related image database. Depending on your selection, you might also find video or animation which makes the site all the more exciting.

10. ESPN Image Gallery
I didn't forget you, sports fans. ESPN has a wonderful collection of sports photographs. You can browse by 'photos of the day', sport, or city. The site offers galleries dedicated to influential coaches or popular athletes. There's even a gallery dedicated to U.S. Presidents enjoying their game of choice.

More Image Collections

There's a picture in my memory / words by C. Brewster ; music by Dave Fitzgibbon.,Once I had a sweetheart I thought very dear. [first line],There's a picture in my memory. [first line of chorus], Digital ID 1165738, New York Public Library

There are thousands of free image galleries available on the web all put together by different organizations. The ones included above stand out in one way or another but if they don't meet your needs or you're looking for some extra pictures fun check out these honorable mentions.

Other Lists

I'm not the only one who has put one of these lists together. If you're still looking for Digital Resources, these might be helpful.

What are your favorite digital image collections? Any aditional lists you know about? Share in the comments!


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Great post!

Here are two interesting image resources: Tin Eye Labs lets you search Creative Commons on Flickr by color - Aaron Swartz and Taryn Simon's Image Atlas provides top image results for a given search term by country -

NASA has an interesting image

NASA has an interesting image gallery:

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