New York Public Library shares 180,000 copyright free archive images and calls for ‘Remix Residency’ artists

With open access to more items than ever before, NYPL’s digital collections now include a treasure trove of restriction-free high res photographs, illustrations, maps, etchings, historical documents and other archive ephemera

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47d9-4f83-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.g

Free to share and reuse without permission, much of the fascinating collection can be downloaded easily and quickly online, or explored in a variety of ways through searching the library or in a new enhanced visualisation tool. View the library of images by genre, from photographs and postcards to maps, menus, letters and more; dates, from the 11th to the 21st century; or even colour. We’ve picked out some of our favourites…

Menus from Klein's, 1948 (left), and Hotel Buffalo, 1941 (right), digital items also include inside pages. Lead image: Seventh Avenue looking south from 35th Street, Manhattan, 1935 (Photo: Berenice Abbott)
Menus from Klein’s, 1948; and Hotel Buffalo, 1941. Digital items also include inside pages. Lead image: Seventh Avenue looking south from 35th Street, Manhattan, 1935 (Photographer: Berenice Abbott)
Signboard in Amite City, Louisiana, 1935
Signboard in Amite City, Louisiana, 1935
Watercolours, La nuit, 1875; and Soleil couchant, 1875 (Artist: Felix Bracquemond)
Watercolours, La nuit, 1875; and Soleil couchant, 1875 (Artist: Felix Bracquemond)

NYPL currently also have an open call for proposals for the Remix Residency, asking what “beautiful, inspiring and engaging things” can be made from the public domain collections, aiming to encourage imaginative or creative uses of the digital resources.

Artists, information designers, software developers, data scientists, journalists, digital researchers, or anyone with in interest in rummaging around archives who has a great idea for new educational or creative tools, can apply, as individuals or collaborative teams, until 19 February (currently open to US citizens).

The morning bath, Apache, 1906 (Photographer: Edward S Curtis)
The morning bath, Apache, 1906 (Photographer: Edward S Curtis)
United menu, 1963
United menu, 1963
Thanksgiveing Day Banquet, held by American Society in London, at Cecil Hotel, London, England, 1906
Thanksgiveing Day Banquet, held by American Society in London, at Cecil Hotel, London, England, 1906
Street scene showing movie theater, probably in the vicinity of Lancaster, Ohio, 1938 (Photographer: Ben Shahn)
Street scene showing movie theater, probably in the vicinity of Lancaster, Ohio, 1938 (Photographer: Ben Shahn)
Migrants. California, 1936 (Photographer: Dorothea Lange)
Migrants, California, 1936 (Photographer: Dorothea Lange)

Although the library has been in the process of digitising the collection for some time, now with the release of more restriction free items, it presents a greater opportunity to transform the archive into engaging creative projects, from mappings and visualisations to generative art, games, bots and interactives.

NYPL Labs – the library’s digtisation and innovation team – have released several demonstration projects, including Fifth Avenue Then & Now, a comparative visual tour where you can click along the famous New York street, viewing 1911 photos and Google Street View from 2015; Navigating the Green Book – a trip planning tool using locations extracted from mid-20th century motor guides listing hotels, restaurants and other destinations welcoming both white and black travellers; and Mansion Maniac, a game of exploration around early 20th century floor plans of mansions in New York City.

Winter sports, figure skating. Hanover, New Hampshire, 1936 (Photographer: Arthur Rothstein)
Winter sports, figure skating, Hanover, New Hampshire, 1936 (Photographer: Arthur Rothstein)
Cyanotype impression photographs of British Algae, 1843 (Photographer: Anna Atkins)
Cyanotype impression photographs of British algae, 1843 (Photographer: Anna Atkins)
Wills Cigarettes Cards, showing famous inventions, including a cash register mechanism and Pratt's typewriter
Wills Cigarettes cards, showing famous inventions, including Pratt’s typewriter and a cash register mechanism
Fruit sign, Beaufort, South Carolina, 1936 (Photographer: Walker Evans)
Fruit sign, Beaufort, South Carolina, 1936 (Photographer: Walker Evans)
Zoologie stipple engravings or sea urchins, 1805-1812, in Egypt during the expedition of the French army
Zoology stipple engravings of sea urchins and starfish, 1805-1812, created during an expedition to Egypt by the French Army
'A new chart of the vast Atlantic Ocean : exhibiting the seat of war, both in Europe and America, likewise the trade winds & course of sailing from one continent to the other, with the banks, shoals and rocks drawn according to the latest discoveries, and regulated by astronomical observations', 1740 (Engraver: Emanuel Bowen)
‘A new chart of the vast Atlantic Ocean : exhibiting the seat of war, both in Europe and America, likewise the trade winds & course of sailing from one continent to the other, with the banks, shoals and rocks drawn according to the latest discoveries, and regulated by astronomical observations’, 1740 (Engraver: Emanuel Bowen)
Cheese laboratory, South Building, Department of Agriculture. Beltsville, Maryland, 1935 (Photographer: Carl Mydans)
Cheese laboratory, South Building, Department of Agriculture. Beltsville, Maryland, 1935 (Photographer: Carl Mydans)

See all the tools here and the restriction free images here nypl.org/research/collections/digital-collections/public-domain

Full digital collection at digitalcollections.nypl.org