View Great Art For Free On These 6 Inspiring Websites

Yaara Lancet 24-07-2012

great art websitesThe Internet’s boom brought many great things with it, including access to places we might otherwise never visit. This accessibility goes hand in hand with the fact we don’t leave our chairs as much as we used to; and why should we? It’s all available right there, on our computers. In other words, as computer geeks, many of us don’t get out much. For example, when was the last time you visited your local museum? I know it’s been ages for me. I only get to see art when I take a trip aboard, and those are few and far between.


The obvious solution to this art problem would be to get off the chair and go visit a museum. Excellent solution. Another great solution would be to enjoy amazing art right from your chair, with the plethora of free art offered by many museum websites. Sure, it doesn’t solve the immobility problem – you should still get up from you chair every now and then – but it does give you the ability to enjoy art, not only from your local museum, but from all over the world. It’s free, it’s beautiful, and it could provide a a cultural boost to an otherwise uninspiring day.

Google Art Project

great art websites

While Google is still not an art museum, the Google Art Project is an amazing initiative which bring together works of art from over 50 museums around the world. The project currently features over 30,000 high-resolution artworks, and there are dozens of additional museums already signed aboard. The art collections come from a wide variety of worldwide museums, some vey well-known such as the Metropolitan, the MoMA and the Tate, and some more obscure such as the Museum of Islamic Art is Qatar.

To start enjoying art, simply choose a museum, a collection or an artist, or let the system offer some interesting artworks for you to discover. You can share interesting finds with your friends with one click, and personalize the experience even further by signing in and creating your own galleries.

Web Gallery of Art

great art sites


As if taken from a different world or era, the Web Gallery of Art is to the Google Art Project what Mac OS X is to DOS. You won’ find a slick and clever interface here, but you will find a searchable virtual museum which includes thousands of European paintings and sculptures from the 11th century up to the 19th century. Each work of art is viewable in a separate window, where you can choose the color of its background and adjust its size for optimal viewing, and comes complete with the artist’s biography.

The Web Gallery is more suited to those who are into this type of art, and will find it in themselves to browse the extensive yet somewhat unappealing interface of the gallery. You can start looking up works of art by different artists, by school, period, timeline, and even by the exact profession of the artists. Several guided tours are also available on the site, such as an overview of Italian art or a virtual visit to the Sistine Chapel.

The Smithsonian

great art sites

The Smithsonian is one of the most famous museums in the world, and is actually made up of 19 different museums and galleries. While most of these museums are free, not all of us live in Washington D.C. to enjoy them. Luckily, The Smithsonian offers some very interesting exhibitions online, under virtual exhibitions. These exhibition come from different Smithsonian galleries, and deal with anything from American history to space to horses.


These virtual exhibitions are not all the same, each has its own unique interface, where you can browse works, or simply learn about the world or the universe. This is a truly educational experience, not just a quick glance at some artworks.

The MoMA

great art sites

The MoMA, or the Museum of Modern Art, is a great place to visit if you want to be surprised. As with any other modern-art museum, the MoMA displays everything from traditional paintings and photography, to the most intriguing media displays and sculptures. Many of the MoMA’s displays are available for browsing online, via the online collections. To view some interesting artworks, you can choose a specific category, search by artist or art term, or simply search for any keyword. For each work of art you’ll also find additional useful information regarding the work, along with ability to save works you like or browse similar works.

The British Museum

art websites


The British Museum offers a large variety of online tours, which are a great source of information, if not exactly of visual pleasure. The images included in the tours are rather small, but each can be enlarged for better viewing. The interface is a bit clunky – you have to click on an image to enlarge it, which opens a separate page – but the overall experience is an educational one, and the tours offer a wealth of information about the featured artworks. You can browse the online tour by world regions, and choose specific exhibitions within each one.

The Louvre

art websites

While the Louvre doesn’t have a staggering online collection, it’s still worth a look if you’re at all interested in non-modern art. The Louvre’s website currently features three rather impressive online tours, and there are also several online collections of various artworks you can browse as simple images. While I normally dislike virtual tours with all my heart, these are actually a great way to virtually browse whole rooms in the Louvre, getting a general feel of the place, and even getting additional information on some artworks by clicking on them.

Online Art Gallery

great art websites


Interested in getting to know unknown artists, or actually buying art? Or maybe you’re an artist who can’t get his/her works into the MoMA yet, but is nonetheless interested in some public exposure? The big museums won’t help you there, but the Online Art Gallery will. Based in the UK, the Online Art Gallery features artworks from all over the world, and any artist can sign up and feature their work. As an art lover, you’re welcome to browse the interesting collection, discover beautiful works of art and artists you’ve never heard of, and if you really like what you see, you can even use the website to get in touch with the artist and purchase it.

Wait! There’s Much More

These six galleries are by no means the only place to find free online art. Almost any big museum offers some free art on its website, so check out your favorite local museum for some. You might get to enjoy some local art even if you don’t have time for a day trip.

Do you have a favorite website where free art is available? Share in the comments!

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  1. Tony Boytano
    September 16, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    As a long time reader I thought you might like this creative art & design site ive been looking at. News artists featured daily and interviews with some great artists.


    All the best and keep up the good work

    • Yaara Lancet
      September 17, 2012 at 6:26 pm

      Thank you!

  2. Mark Sofman
    July 31, 2012 at 5:07 pm


  3. Sai Krishna
    July 31, 2012 at 6:29 am

    very nice websites.

  4. LeonerGutierrez
    July 31, 2012 at 2:26 am

    Qué buen artículo!

  5. Mishaal
    July 30, 2012 at 11:58 pm


  6. Contessa Cooper
    July 30, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    Just what I needed today. Thanks for the great sites!

  7. Barbe Vanore-Velez
    July 30, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Barb V.

    Great Site!

  8. Barbe Vanore-Velez
    July 30, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    great site, love the pics

  9. Rob Long
    July 30, 2012 at 6:30 am

    Nice to see art up close thats so far away.

  10. Colin Ryan
    July 28, 2012 at 9:58 am


  11. mary
    July 28, 2012 at 5:20 am

    Yaara, Thank you for this very interesting article on Art websites. Will be checking them all. My husband has been to the Louvre and Smithsonian,and as an artist, is excited he can see these others as well, from our computer.Great article

    • Yaara Lancet
      July 28, 2012 at 10:08 pm

      Thanks Mary!

  12. Cathy Horner
    July 27, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    Thanks! Sure to enjoy these sites! I often seek out artists work to study.

  13. Teodoro Villamarzo
    July 27, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    I didn't expect that Art would be a topic in Make Use Of. And I didn't expect that there would be so many fine collections available on the internet. Quite a surprise. And a very wonderful and delightful surprise it is! Again Yaara, your topics are not only relevant (that's how it turned out for me) but inspiring as well. Great job and thanks, to you and to Make Use Of!

    • Yaara Lancet
      July 27, 2012 at 6:52 pm

      Thank you for the kind words Teodoro!

  14. Andrei Bogdan
    July 27, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    As an artist myself , this is quite helpful .

  15. Rutul Parikh
    July 27, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    I liked the The British Museum most as it has the most simple design with info clearly visible. The Louvre has nice UI and decoration and MoMA is also nice.

  16. Pratik Bhandari
    July 27, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Great sites!!

  17. Karen Ang
    July 26, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Thanks! I wasn't aware of some of the sites listed here

  18. H G
    July 26, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Awesome, good job!

  19. Nguyen Tran
    July 26, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Amazing art sites, good works!

  20. Cerese Minetti
    July 25, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    This is so great! So much good stuff!

  21. Emily Odza
    July 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    The museum sites and other sources of art images listed here are wonderful, but to actually obtain the images for use in lectures and research projects might be difficult. I recommend WorldImages [Broken Link Removed] if you are a teacher or student looking to illustrate your lectures, presentations, or other projects.

    Started by a brilliant Art History professor at San Jose State University who has travelled in many countries, it is a huge (80,000 and growing) collection of digitized images of art, archaeology, ceramics, architecture (and etc.) from around the world, images based on the travels of many California State University educators. The images are free for educators' use, but you can also buy large scale images for other uses. You can create portfolios and do many interesting searches on the site. You can also learn a lot by reading associated text. Have fun!

    • Yaara Lancet
      July 25, 2012 at 7:22 pm

      Thank you Emily, looks like a great resource!

    • Ellen Odza
      July 31, 2012 at 5:00 pm

      Good grief! We have the same last name and our daughter is also named Emily! I wonder if we could be related as I understand from my husband and mom-in-law our last name is very rare (not to mention unspellable and unpronounable - we describe it as "short and difficult"!)

  22. Elvenrunelord
    July 25, 2012 at 8:59 am

    I am shocked you did not mention the largest art site on the internet. Deviant Art.

    Yes I know you will not find any of the "masters" work on there, but what you will find is infinitely more interesting....the art of the people as it is happening day after day, month after month, year after year.

    Probably one of the most important sites on the net for art.

    • michel
      July 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm

      You're shocked that amateur fan computer eye candy is not mentioned in an article about "Great Art"? What's on that site is "infinitely more interesting"?

      I hope you're still a teenager - and from your posting name I would guess you are - otherwise your comment is very, very sad.

      • Elvenrunelord
        July 25, 2012 at 9:52 pm

        As for my nick it came from one of the characters on NCIS.

        As to being a teenager.....far from it.

        And indeed. I find the sociological aspects of deviant art far more interesting and alive than the works of people who were mostly of the privileged class centuries before I was born.

        Never before in the history of mankind has the average person had the time, opportunity, and tools available to them to create art. Art being in the eye of the beholder and not in the eye of the art snob of course.

        Michel. You troll! I am done feeding you.

    • Yaara Lancet
      July 25, 2012 at 7:21 pm

      Deviant art is a great website indeed, but it's not a good fit for the topic of this post. Thanks for pointing it out though!

  23. nahid saleem
    July 25, 2012 at 5:26 am

    Cool sites!

  24. Dan W.
    July 25, 2012 at 1:59 am

    Check out This great little website allows you to search for art objects from participating museums in an eMuseum Network and get all sorts of good information about each object. The site even allows you to create your own collection of works of art you find on the site on a page called My Museum and you can share your collection with your friends..

    • Yaara Lancet
      July 25, 2012 at 7:23 pm

      Thanks Dan, the website is not loading for me right now, but I will definitely take a look later.