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San Diego State University

Center for Visual Literacies and Research Methods

Online Image Banks

Art Institute Chicago. Collections.
The Art Institute Chicago’s online collections offers access to over 77,000 works, including basic information about works of art. There are a variety of filters to help teachers explore themes, browse images a-z, search the online collection, and search interpretive resources. In addition, teachers may create “My Collections,” an individualized online gallery that may be shared with students and teachers. 


Balboa Park. The Commons
This new resource was created “in support of the educational and charitable missions of the participating Museums and Cultural Institutions.” The Balboa Park Online Commons allows access to the collections of seven cultural institutions within this urban oasis. There are a variety of filters to help teachers search and create sets of images that can be bookmarked and shared.


California State UniversityWorld Images Kiosk.
The World Image Kiosk contains approximately 100,000 images, with nine hundred portfolios, from California State University’s IMAGE project. Spanning across multiple disciplines, the online database has a keyword search in addition to portfolios organized alphabetically that might be useful teachers planning units.


Creative Commons
“Creative Commons develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation.” This site is a gateway to approved images hosted on other web pages such as Google and Flickr.


Collaborative Arts Resources for Education (CARE)

CARE is a partnership of four cultural institutions in San Diego. This site has searchable image and lesson banks that focus on teaching across the K-12 curriculum. Teachers can search by grade level, medium, or related subject such as science or language arts.


Corbis ImagesFine Art Collection
Corbis Image’s online database includes a collection of more than one million images. Corbis’s collection includes historical and editorial images from photojournalists, fine arts museums, and cultural institutions in addition to creative royalty-free images.  


The J Paul Getty Trust. Explore the Collection
There are many ways to search the Getty’s digitized collection from this link: by object type, medium, topic, theme, or keyword. You can also explore the 3,325 artworks curated for the Google Art Project.


The Library of Congress. Prints & Photographs Online Catalog
The Library of Congress has an online catalog of prints and photographs. It has a keyword search in addition to collections organized by topics that might be useful teachers planning units.


The Metropolitan Museum of ArtThe Collection Online
The Metropolitan Museum of Art recently (May 2014) released nearly 400,000 high- resolution images of their collection to the public. The collection can be searched by artist, medium or even era.


Smithsonian LibraryGalaxy of Images.
Ranging from art to zoology, the Smithsonian’s digitized collection may be search by keyword, taxonomic (scientific) word, author, topic, or theme. Uniting twenty libraries into one system, this online image resource samples from more than 1.5 million printed books.