Free historical pictures and photos from public collections

Gain access to 169,110 free hi-res images, selected from major public collections around the world, simply by registering on our website (which takes just 30 seconds).

These images have been made available by these institutions for any use, including commercial, on one of the following sets of terms:

Please familiarise yourself with the terms that apply to each image you download, and satisfy yourself that the images infringe the rights of no third party, however unlikely this is, since neither the source institutions nor Look and Learn give any warranties in this regard.

In order to protect our investment in collating these images for you, there is a daily limit of 50 free image downloads.

The images available include some of the most famous historical illustrations, art and photographs, held by museums and galleries in Europe and the USA. We have chosen what we believe are the best and most useful images available from each institution. We have standardised the colour profile of images to either Adobe RGB (1998) or sRGB and the resolution to 300ppi. We have made tonal and colour corrections to Wellcome Collection images, and in most cases we have enriched the keyword metadata. All the images are discoverable via our fast and accurate search engine, which supports both all-word (default) and exact-phrase searches.

These free images are a perfect complement to the Look and Learn archive which specialises in historical illustration and vintage imagery of a type underrepresented in public collections.

We hope this new initiative will both:

  • save you time, by removing the need to search multiple websites; and
  • save you money, by removing the risk of buying an image from a picture library, only to find that it could have been had for free

If you would like to be informed when new public collections are added to the Look and Learn website, please select Please update me when new collections are added on the registration page.