Flickr is a great photo storage and sharing site. Many museums use their Flickr account for the type of photos you’d often see on social media: people at events, receptions, and the like, but others use it to share their collections with the world wide web. Here are a few of interest to the medievally-minded.
The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, has a good online presence, with a digital collection of images. But in some cases, their Illuminated Manuscripts Flickr albums have MORE images than are on the official museum website. The Walters also applies the Creative Commons Zero license to most of its images, meaning that anyone is allow to use these images. The Flickr pages each include details about the manuscript, and album descriptions point the user back to the Walter Art Museum website, where you can find even more high quality images. Great utilization of Flickr to share their collection with the world, while also drawing visitors back to their own site.
The Swedish History Museum, as they are known on Flickr, has a lovely selection of albums with detailed artefact photos. Many of these were part of a touring exhibition, We call them Vikings. The descriptions are all in English. The wonderful part is that all the images list the exact accession number, many times with a direct link to the official site. If not, you can utilize that accession number to find more information and images on the official Museum website. If you choose ‘English’ on the main page, your variety of options is much smaller, compared to the original language. The good news is that the search icon from either the Swedish or English pages each give results from the ‘samlingsdatabasen’. Those results are NOT presented visually identical to results on the Sök i samlingarna (beta) pages. So don’t be afraid to work a little bit to tease out more information. I managed with a separate tab for Google Translate opened up, and translated words and search terms as needed. While Google Translate will attempt to translate whole webpages, I have not found it very dependable with advanced search pages – the drop down menus, tabs, and image-based buttons don’t translate properly.
The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, England, gets a grudging inclusion in this list for one reason – the Staffordshire Hoard. Their flickr account includes a large album of photos from its first display, as well as several other albums displaying collections, including one of Birmingham before 1700. Not all photos have captions linking to museum inventory number. However, their main site is not very research friendly – with a ‘selection’ of items, rather than lots of images. While the Staffordshire Hoard images are fully copyrighted, the images of the pre-1700 album is mostly Creative Commons – Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike.
**This is NOT an all inclusive list of useful sites. I searched for ‘people’ aka flickr accounts with the word ‘museum’ or ‘history museum’ or ‘museet’. Then click over to ‘albums’, where you will be able to quickly see if the museum uses Flickr primarily for social purposes, or to share their collection. If it looks mostly social media style, I check the oldest albums, to see if they have some collection photos too. To be worthy of inclusion, the Flickr photo descriptions needed to identify the image in some way. Images of sections of a gallery didn’t make my cut either, only high quality collection photos.