Finding Images

Finding Images

Finding images is easy. Finding the right image can seem impossible. The first step in finding the right image is using the right database. The tricky thing about image databases is that so many of them require a subscription. Go to your library or use a vpn if possible to make sure you’re getting access to all databases available to you. When you’re searching, remember that you have to match your search language with the way the cataloger described the image. Try a few different spellings, synonyms, or variations of your terms, or try using an index like the AAT to figure out the correct terminology.

General images


A tool for finding images on Flickr that does a nice job of drawing on the more interesting photographs in the database and allows you to filter by licensing and file type available.

Flickr Commons

A grouping of museums and institutions that have banded together to publish images that have fallen into the public domain.

Luna Commons

A site that aggregates public domain images from the users of the popular content management system. Here you can find collections ranging from fashion to architecture to maps and more.

LIFE Magazine images on Google

Google images is host to millions of photographs of the iconic magazine. Use the term “source:life” when searching at Google images to restrict your search to this collection.


Arch Daily

A great resource for contemporary architecture delivered in a blog format. As they say of themselves, their mission is to provide, “the best architecture around the world, as soon as possible.”


Open access image database of architecture from Eastern Europe and Asia.

Art and Design

Access Ceramics

An open access resource that carries artwork by many prominent ceramicists.

Metropolitan Museum Timeline of Art History

This timeline is a wonderful tool for scholars and students alike. It’s a great place to start if you’re not quite sure what kind of images you’re looking for. Not only does the timeline utilize the extensive collection belonging to the Met but it also provides the user with essays, indexes, and maps to put the artwork in context.

Visual Arts Data Service (VADS)

A collection of collections from all across the UK. This database is particularly strong for its images of the decorative arts.

Ubu Web

A collection of performance work and avante garde writing. Here you can find images of performances, sound recordings, and even videos for some artworks.

Leave a Comment