5 Museums And Organizations With Free Art For Your Home

Decorating your home on a budget doesn't mean you have to give up important accents like art. It simply means you might need to be a little savvy when it comes to how you spend the funds you've put aside for decorative pieces. Dayna Isom Johnson, a trend expert at Etsy, explained to Refinery29, "When buying art for the first time, start with identifying your style and thinking about what kind of art you are looking to purchase. Ask yourself: Are you into styles like modern block prints, or vintage oil paintings, or photography? From there, establish a budget and stick to it."

One way to save money while choosing art for your home is to download free images before printing them out yourself. All you need to do from there is potentially frame your new art and put it in the perfect room where it might become one of your favorite pieces. In order to find a wide range of possibilities, you can simply check out the various museums, universities, libraries, and other organizations that have made some of the pieces in their collections free to use. Take time to browse the online assortments and you can find paintings, photographs, illustrations, and much more. You can also opt for work by van Gogh, Renoir, Cassatt, Mondrian, Monet, and other notable artists.

If that's piqued your interest, then take a look at the following creative collections with free art you can use in your home.

1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art — or the Met — is surely one of the most famous art institutions in the world. Established in 1870 and founded in New York City, the museum's goal focuses on art that spans both the globe and history.

With a collection that includes items that go back more than 5,000 years, in 2017, a large portion of that work was added to an open-access database. Over the course of the first four years of the pieces being available online, they were apparently downloaded more than 7 million times on top of being viewed more than 1.2 billion times. That staggering success and obvious popularity is surely why the Met continually adds more art to the available collection.

To find the free pieces, hop over to their online collection and make sure the "open access" box is checked. You can also use filters that'll help you narrow down mediums, dates, and locations of origins as well as general search terms that will allow you to look for specific artists, names of pieces, or topics. To get an idea of what's available and could look incredible in your home, take a peek at Johannes Vermeer's "Young Woman with a Water Pitcher" or "The Card Players" by Paul Cézanne. You might also adore Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec's "Moulin Rouge: La Goulue," Caravaggio's "The Musicians," or "Jalais Hill, Pontoise" by Camille Pissarro not to mention the many other options.

2. Yale University Art Gallery

The Yale University Art Gallery has been around since 1832, which makes it the oldest art museum belonging to a university in the United States. From its collection of almost 300,000 pieces, 154,000 have been added to Yale's open-access collection and abide by the International Image Interoperability Framework, which means you know you'll be getting quality copies.

Just like many of the other available works from museums, universities, and organizations, you're free to download the images, print them, and even change them as you wish. You can also explore categories such as African art, European art, and Asian art, as well as modern art, contemporary art, prints, and drawings.

If you're not sure where to get started when it comes to finding pieces for your home, you might want to consider the stunning shapes and shades of "Autumn Flower" by Paul Klee, or enjoy the captivating color in an untitled work from Mark Rothko.

You might also adore the scene in "Le café de nuit (The Night Café)" by Vincent van Gogh, which depicts the Café de l'Alcazar, known for being a spot where van Gogh spent time. He described the décor himself when he wrote to his brother of the "blood red and dull yellow with a green billiard table in the center, four lemon yellow lamps with an orange and green glow. Everywhere there is a clash and contrast of the most disparate reds and greens."

3. The National Gallery of Art

Founded in Washington, DC, the National Gallery of Art's collection includes over 150,000 works. Featuring everything from paintings to sculptures, the gallery's exhibitions focus on Western arts and artists. You may recognize the names of famous figures in their collection, such as Edward Hopper and Mary Cassatt.

The names you'll find among their open-access collection are just as impressive if not even more noteworthy. That's due, in part, to how many artists were included. A project first kicking off back in March 2012, it featured 20,000 items when it launched, according to ArtfixDaily.

If you check it out nowadays, you'll be able to find, download, and adorn your walls with a wide range of mediums, techniques, and subjects. You'll surely be interested to find out that you could opt for classic examples of Renaissance paintings, such as "Portrait of a Young Lady, c. 1500" by Leonardo da Vinci, which positions a dynamically light image of Beatrice D'Este, Duchess of Milan, against a dramatically dark background.

Or you could add a calming effect and soft pastel shades to your room with the help of an impressionist piece like Claude Monet's "The Japanese Footbridge, 1899." Capturing the stunning view of his beloved home at Giverny, you can match your décor with the colors found in the bridge, water lilies, and willows, which are all reflected in the still pond.

4. The Art Institute of Chicago

You might find it hard to choose what pieces from the Art Institute of Chicago to use in your home, simply because there are so many incredible options. Granted, that just means you'll be able to switch things up by choosing, downloading, printing, and putting up new art whenever you want to change up your interior décor a little.

To start things off, you might want to check out artists and art that you're likely familiar with, such as "The Bedroom" by Vincent van Gogh, which would suit the very room it's named for, and "Paris Street; Rainy Day" by Gustave Caillebotte, which you could certainly use in your living room. There's also "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte" by Georges Seurat, which could work in pretty much any room, while the same could be said for "Lozenge Composition with Yellow, Black, Blue, Red, and Gray" by Piet Mondrian. Katsushika Hokusai's "Under the Wave off Kanagawa" would look lovely in a common living space and Edvard Munch's "The Girl by the Window" would be charming in a bedroom.

To view available open-access art, simply search the institute's online database and use the public domain filter. You'll be able to find around 50,000 images, which is even more than when the institute first started offering unrestricted access to certain pieces in its collection back in 2018, according to Artnet News. That may mean even more are coming in the future.

5. The New York Public Library

While you might associate the New York Public Library with an abundance of books — which is definitely valid — it also has a large collection of historical documents. Among them, you'll find a wide range of fascinating peeks into the past in the form of notes, photographs, drawings, maps, and so much more. Many of them have also been added to the library's open-access program, which means that with a little creativity, they could make fabulous artistic décor for your home.

For instance, you could frame an old map of New York City or scenes from Seville in Spain for your living room or bedroom. There are also stunning black-and-white shots of the Manhattan Bridge, the interior of Penn. Station, a glimpse at life in Harlem by Berenice Abbott back in 1938, and an image of the rooftops in the financial district, all of which would make striking additions to your walls.

If you're interested in something that's both playful and retro for a playroom or family room, then check out the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey poster — although it might freak you out if you're scared of clowns. In that's the case, you might prefer something somewhat unexpected for the space like an illustration of a walrus hanging out with a couple of seals or a vintage Collier's magazine cover. Want a piece that's a conversation starter? Then you can frame a handwritten letter to Benjamin Franklin. The possibilities are seemingly endless.