Museum image fees (ctd.)

April 19 2018

Image of Museum image fees (ctd.)

Picture: Bridgeman

Terrible news - Bridgeman has signed a deal with the Italian government giving it the exclusive right to sell and licence images for 439 Italian museums, including all the major ones like the Uffizi, the Brera and so on. As demonstrated above, Italy's masterpieces are now to be seen only as 'assets', to be ruthlessly exploited by a commercial organisation. Says the Bridgeman press release:

We are excited to announce that we have signed an agreement with the Ministero dei beni delle attività culturali e del turismo (MiBACT), allowing us to acquire and license images from 439 Italian museums and cultural sites belonging to MiBACT.

MiBACT includes some of the world’s most prestigious Italian museums including the Uffizi, Pinacoteca di Brera, Cenacolo Vinciano, Pantheon, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, and Pompei.

Bridgeman is grateful to MiBACT for this agreement, which is the first of its kind and presents an amazing opportunity for the museums and Bridgeman to be able to distribute and license these remarkable images worldwide. We are working with each institution to add content and images that will be available for all editorial and some non-editorial uses.

Bridgeman is proud to be able to provide additional income for these important institutions and to enable investment in the protection and enhancement of their cultural heritage.

I like the contradiction in terms at the end of the press release - in a digital age, how does limiting the dissemination of images 'enhance' Italy's cultural heritage? Doubtless the Italian government has thought about the bottom line, and is excited about the prospect of 'additional income'. But at what cost? By effectively making inaccessible Italy's masterpieces to scholars, school kids, and the public alike?

To publish an image of Botticelli's Venus in a low print run (less than 2,500 copies) 'educational publication' will cost you £158. 

A grim day for art history.

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