Case Studies/Highlights from SMK, The National Gallery of Denmark

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cc by, smk, statens museum for kunst, national gallery, denmark, google art project, images, moving images, youtube, educational, public domain


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SMK (Statens Museum for Kunst), The National Gallery of Denmark, has released 159 highlights and 100 educational videos on YouTube under the CC BY license. The 159 artworks and 100 videos are also featured in the Google Art Project. SMK want this content, that is free of copyright restrictions, to be freely available to our users for any purpose. As a national gallery, we believe that those parts of our collections that are in the Public Domain belong to everyone. With this limited selection of content, we want to test how people use these freely available digital resources in new creative and innovative ways.


SMK has released a small selection of 159 highlights from our collections of Danish, Nordic and European art that are in the Public Domain. Furthermore, we have licensed approximately 100 educational videos providing insight into some of the artworks.

The collections at SMK comprise three main collections: The Royal Collection of Painting and Sculpture, The Royal Collection of Graphic Art, and The Royal Collection of Plaster Casts. As the names suggest, these collections have their roots in the art collections of Danish monarchs; they are believed to date back to King Christian II and the mid-16th century.

The Collection of Sculpture and Painting comprises approximately 10,500 paintings and sculptures, while the Collection of Graphic Art houses more than 245,000 works of art on paper. In addition to this, approximately 2,500 plaster casts are housed at the Royal Cast Collection.

New works are added to the collections every year. Generous donations and acquisitions have shaped the profile of the collections in recent years, but the starting point remains the collections built by Danish monarchs.

SMK is the national gallery of Denmark and is funded by the Danish state.

License Usage

CC BY 3.0


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One important achievement with using a Creative Commons license that aloows commercial reuse is that we are able to enrich Wikimedia Commons, and subsequently Wikipedia articles, with high quality images of artworks from SMK.

We asked Ole Palnatoke Andersen from Wikipedia Denmark for a comment on what this will mean:

"When SMK releases images of 159 artworks under CC BY, it means that we in Wikipedia (as well as the other Wikimedia projects) are able to write better articles about both the artists, the artwokrs, and the motifs. One example: In 1646, Jan van Goyen painted a prospect of the city of Arnhem. This image is not only fit to illustrate the article about van Goyen, but also the one about Arnhem, 1646, tonal landscape painting, and tulipomania - not just in Danish, but in all the languages that Wikipedia is available in. Furthermore, images and texts can be reused elsewhere on the Internet to the benefit of many more users."

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