Free Digital Archive Makes Over 50 Million Pieces of European Art Available Online

With the goal to transform the world through culture, the Europeana Collections is a massive digital archive with the objective to make Europe's cultural heritage widely available for researchers and history lovers. Over 3,000 European cultural institutions and aggregators participate in the project, and with more than 50 million pieces of data online, you could spend days immersed in the archive.

From large institutions like the Rijksmuseum and the European Library—which is a collection of 48 European national libraries—to smaller niche organizations such as the Irish Manuscript Collection and the Musical Instrument Museums online archive, there is something for everyone. Europeana really is a one-stop shop for all things in European culture, as it not only takes directly from institutions, but also is an aggregator of other digital archives.

More than 3 million of the archives are openly licensed, meaning you can use them for any purpose, and many of the images are available in high resolution, allowing you to get up close and personal with your favorite Monet.

The Europeana Collections has over 50 million pieces of European history in its digital archive from more than 3,000 institutions.

With so much information, it could be easy to get lost, but Europeana does a nice job of presenting the materials in different thematic sections, including its recently opened Europeana Photography collection, which has over 2 million photographs. Music, art, fashion, sport, natural history, and maps and geography are some of the other collections, with virtual exhibitions helping paint a picture of themes like Art Nouveau trends or fashion reinterpretations through history.

Take a look at some highlights from the collections and dive in. Whether you want to hear a playlist of bird songs, selections of music by Bach, or read letters from WWI, chances are you will discover something of interest.

Here's some of what you'll find:

leonardo da vinci sketchbook

Leonardo da Vinci. The Codex Arundel. 1478 – 1518. British Library.

magic lantern

Magic lantern. 1898. Stiftelsen Nordiska museet.

Heinrich Hamann Photography

Heinrich Hamann. Turner at the Pommel horse. 1905-1909. Museum Für Kunst Und Gewerbe Hamburg.

emilio pucci sketch

Figurino. Emilio Pucci. Emilio Pucci Archive.

wwi postcard

Wilhelm Sandvoß. Humorous postcards. 1915 – 1918. Europeana 1914-1918.

Netsuke europeana archive

Ryûmin. Netsuke. Edo Period. Östasiatiska Musee.

europeana oepn source material

Christmas Rose. Giacometti. Page from ornamental design book. 1896. Schola Graphidis Art Collection, Hungarian University of Fine Arts.

Aubrey Beardsley - Isolde europeana collection

Aubrey Beardsley. Isolde. 1898. Digitalt Museum.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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