If you are a Professor of Art, History, Literature, or Humanities, or just a humanities nerd (like me), 2017 is shaping up to be the year of the open source bonanza! Three really exciting new resources are available to help you find, remix, and use digital visual culture, free of charge!
Recently the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, North America's largest museum, announced that it was switching to an Open Access policy for all of its artworks that are in the public domain under a Creative Commons 0 license. This means that researchers, designers, artists, and students can download, print, change, and remix any of the artworks that have the Creative Commons 0 icon under their catalog entry at metmuseum.com (see example below). Since the Met has one of the largest collections of fine arts and historical artifacts in the world, this opens up a wealth of possibilities for publishing, displaying and sourcing these works without paying exhorbitant fees for the rights!
The Public Domain Review describes itself as "an ever-growing cabinet of curiosities for the digital age...with a focus on the surprising, the strange, and the beautiful". It is an open-source treasure trove of digital cultural artifacts that are divided into four categories: film, audio, books, and images. Articles are periodically written that are curated around a specific subject. This results in the bringing together of objects from all four categories by theme, period, or topic, so that readers can dive deeply into the material documentation of a subject that they find personally or academically interesting. A wonderful recent example of this type of article dives into nineteenth-century yellow journalism as historical example of the "fake news" phenomenon. You can take a closer look at this story by clicking on the photo below.
The Digital Public Library of America is a digital database of maps, books, documents and ephemera that is housed in public libraries across the country. It goes beyond the traditional database because it is actually a platform that uses API (Application Programming Interface) and metadata to organize its collection, which allows for the creation of apps that can sort and deliver content in a variety of really interesting and useful ways. While the technology behind this is a bit tough to explain (the video below provides more information), the results are incredibly useful. Users can sort library materials by subject, location created, or even by color! Click here to view an awesome collection of artifacts and primary sources from various times and locations that help to explain the history and context of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter.
So, as you can see, these three open source resources can help to make art, history, and literature come alive for your students by situating it in context and helping to generate new ideas, understanding, and creative products.
For more information about other open source resources and how they are currently being used at FSCJ, view our In Focus Live: Open Educational Resources seminar, filmed in December.