“Knowledge is the most valuable thing we have to give.”

Ryan Merkley’s remarks at the Metropolitan Museum for #MetOpenAccess

This is a big deal, and I’m incredibly happy to be here today to celebrate with you. What The Metropolitan Museum of Art has done today is a remarkable act of leadership and a bold commitment to the values that built this museum.

“… to connect people to creativity, knowledge, and ideas.” That’s the mission of the Met. And while the building is vital to those ends, the Met’s digital impact will be far greater.

By sharing this incredible collection online and without restriction, the Met is tearing down the barriers that restrain access to creativity and knowledge, and hamper innovation.

Instead, it is pushing the collection beyond the walls of the Museum, allowing 5,000 years of history and art to inspire those who will create the masterpieces and innovations of the future.

Knowledge is the most valuable thing we have to give. We are so quick to question the cost of things, but often unwilling to explore their true value. But value is so much more important than cost. The public domain is the grand sum of freely available human creativity and knowledge. Not only is it ours to enjoy, but also to build upon and use. But all too few have access to these works.

Over 6.5M people stepped through the doors of the Met last year. That experience is impossible to copy. Each of us can think of a time that we were inspired by seeing a great work up close for the first time. The detail. The colour. The scale.

But most of the world will never have that chance — poorer communities here in the US and around the world will never have the opportunity to stand where we are today. The Met has done something remarkable, by sharing openly to create the conditions that will allow anyone to experience these works through new media — high resolution prints, 3D scans, VR, and more.

This isn’t about making the collection free: it’s about advancing the human cause of equity and access for everyone to the greatest works of history, “… to connect people to creativity, knowledge, and ideas.”

It is my great hope that today’s announcements will set the bar for institutions seeking to serve the public, and encourage them to follow suit with their own collections.

CC Search

Creative Commons is known for the CC licenses — a set of simple tools that allow anyone to share their work under standard permissive terms. Over 1.1 Billion works have been shared using our license tools. Our goal is to support a vibrant, usable Commons powered by collaboration and gratitude. That work has taken us beyond the licenses into new territory.

As part of this announcement, we are working towards that goal of creating a more usable commons by sharing for the first time a beta of our new CC Search tool, which indexes about 1 percent of the commons (about 10M images), including 200,000 images released by the Metropolitan Museum of Art today. We’re releasing CC Search today and inviting users to try out the beta, including our list-making features, and the simple, one-click attribution to make it easier to credit the source of any image you discover.

We’ve set up a dedicated link to allow people to search the Met’s collections directly.

Thank you to the Met

Finally, I want to give my gratitude and appreciation to the staff here at the Met, who have put in hundreds of hours of work to pull this together, with much more work to do.

On behalf of the Creative Commons and the CC communities in over 100 countries around the world, we congratulate you on this incredible achievement, and look forward to working with you in the coming years to bring even more of the Met’s collections into the commons.

Congratulations, and thank you for your leadership.