The project aims to encourage the public to use the images for “educational, scholarly, artistic and personal projects” and is part of a larger initiative by the Smithsonian to open up its digital collections to the public.
High-resolution images of works dating back thousands of years are available for the public to view, which took around 6,000 staff hours last year to photograph and digitise, with the project being in development for the last 15 years.
The galleries are the only Asian Art museums and first Smithsonian ones to release their entire digital collections online, and the Freer and Sackler Galleries hope that future functionality will include sharing, curation and community collaboration with community-based research.
The Freer and Sackler galleries previously helped launch Google’s Art Project and its Cultural Institute among other initiatives, and hope to develop further in 3D images and models of 3 dimensional works over the coming years.
The entire collection can be viewed online at open.asia.si.edu.