The Virtual Collection of Asian Masterpieces (VCM) is a project started in 2007 by the Asia Europe Museum Network (ASEMUS). The objective is to “promote mutual understanding and appreciation between peoples of various and different cultures” using masterpieces from museums in Asia. As of October 2015, there are more than 2,500 masterpieces contributed by more than 100 museums. Users can conduct a keyword search or browse the masterpieces by museum, object type, place or period.
The National Gallery of Australia is one of the largest museums in the country. It houses more than 160,000 works of art in Australian art, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander art, Asian art, European and American art, Asian art and Pacific art. Users can conduct a keyword search or browse by the different categories.
Established in 1900, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) is one of the largest museums in the United States. The museum collection houses more than 65,000 works of art from antiquity to present day. Users can search by keywords or browse by collecting areas, artist/maker, culture, classification and artist nationality.
The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is the national museum of New Zealand. Their collections online contain information of more than 500,000 works of art. Among them, more than 30000 have downloadable images for reuse in high resolution. Users can search by keywords.
A division of the Fashion Institute of Technology, the Museum at FIT (MFIT) is one of the specialised fashion museums accredited by the American Alliance of Museum. The museum’s permanent collection contains about 50,000 garments and accessories from the 18th century to present. The works include pertinent designers such as Chanel, Dior and Balenciaga. Users can search or browse by time periods and types.
Since mid 1700s, the Princeton University has been collecting art. To date, there are more than “92,000 works of art spanning the world of art from antiquity to the present”, as mentioned by James Christen Steward, the Director of the Princeton University Art Museum. Users can search or browse by different collections.
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) is among the largest museums in Canada. To date, there are about 41,000 works in their holdings. Their collections are distributed across six sections: Archaeology and World Cultures, Early to Modern International Art, Quebec and Canadian Art, International Contemporary Art, Decorative Arts and Design, and Graphic Arts and Photography. Users can search or browse images by the different sections.
The collection of Walters Art Museum contains thousands of art works from the third millennium B.C to the 20th century, ranging from mummies to arms and armor, from old master paintings to Art Nouveau jewelry around the globe and across ages. Through their online collections, users can search or browse images in several ways, which include category, date, creator, medium and tags. Users can also login using their Facebook account to create their own online collections.
The Cleveland Museum of Art houses close to 45,000 objects that span across 6,000 years. Their online collection provides access to close to 34,800 images. Users can search or browse by various collections, creators and types.
Founded in 1965, the Israel Museum is “the largest cultural institution in the State of Israel”. They houses encyclopaedic collections, ranging from pre-history to the present day in archaelogy, fine arts and Jewish art. Their digital image database, IMAGINE, allows users to search and browse the collections by exhibitions, collections or departments.
VADS is an “online resource for visual arts”. Over 12 years, VADS built a portfolio of visual art collections, which comprise of “over 100,000 images that are freely available and copyright cleared for use in learning, teaching and research in the UK”. These collections were contributed by various institutions in the UK. Through the site, users can search or browse by collections and themes. VADS also provides a series of resources that were built around the image collections by “specialist authors and lecturers”.
The Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery are the Smithsonian’s museums of Asian art. Together, both galleries holds “some of the most important holdings of Asian art in the world”, with Asian-inspired American art and contemporary art in Asia. More than 40,000 objects are available online. Users can search or browse by object type, topic, name, place and date.
The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco houses more than 18,000 objects ranging from “tiny jades to monumental sculptures”. From the “earliest dated Chinese Buddha image to the contemporary works”, their collections span across different cultures, dynasties, religions and geographies over 6,000 years. The museum provides more than 12,000 images in their online collection. Users can search or browse the collections by the different types of art.
The Art Institute of Chicago was founded as both a museum and school for fine arts around 1879. Today, it houses more than 300,000 works of art in their permanent collections, ranging from “Chinese bronzes to contemporary design and from textiles to installation art”. The digital collection contains more than 80,000 images, where you can search or browse by categories. The website also allows you to sign up for an account and make your own art collections by selecting artworks and adding notes about them. You can save your “collections” to revisit in the future or share them with your friends.
LACMA houses more than 120,000 objects across different media, region and periods such as Greek, Roman and Etruscan art, Asian art, American and Latin American art, decorative arts and design, photography, and modern and contemporary art. The digital collections provide access to more than 53,000 images of artworks with more than 20,000 that LACMA believes to be in the public domain. Users can search and filter the results by artist, classification, curatorial area, periods and location.
One of the oldest and largest museums in Japan, TNM features collections of art and archaeological artefacts in Japan. TNM contains two image databases: The TNM Collections and e-Museum. The TNM contains about 600 works owned by TNM, such as paintings, calligraphy, sculpture, decorative arts and archaeology. The e-Musuem contains images of national treasures and important cultural properties owned by Japan’s four National Institutes for Cultural Heritage (Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara and Kyushu).
The British Museum is one of the largest museums in the world that is dedicated to human history and culture. Currently a work in progress, the British Museum database is “an inventory of the Museum’s collection and aims to record what is known about it”. To date, the database contains more than 2.1 million records with new records, updates and images added every week.
Based in Saint Petersburg, Russia, the State Hermitage Museum is one of the world’s largest and oldest museums. From Paleolithic to contemporary, the museum has more than 3 million items in its holding. The museum also has the world’s largest collection of paintings, which includes famous paintings from the great masters, such as Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, etc.
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts is continually making their collections accessible online. To date, their collections span from paintings, prints, drawings, photography to more specific works like African art, Asian art, decorative arts and new media.
The Museum of Fine Arts Boston is one of the most comprehensive museums in the world. From Ancient Egypt to contemporary art, the museum has nearly 450,000 works of art in its holdings. Its digital collection allows users to search and refine the results by collection type and classification.