Find Free High Quality Images

Met Museum collection, public domain image.

Images can be used in the classroom in a number of ways. We can use images in presentations and other multimedia that we create, in photo essays, digital stories, and blog posts. High resolution images provides greater detail, which are well suited to many activities.Teachers can use them as prompts for writing exercises, and for discussions. They can facilitate both fiction, and non-fiction work in the classroom.

The Metropolitan Museum recently announced that many of their images would be licensed as CC0, which means that anyone can used them without any rights reserved. Here are three museums, with collections of images in the public domain. I’ve hyperlinked to the public domain collection, in each case.

  1. National Gallery of Art
  2. Rijksmuseum
  3. The Met Museum

As a bonus, visit The Commons on Flickr for other Creative Commons licensed images from various institutions. If you’re looking for other sources of images, read my other post on using online images.

Update: February 10, 2017 – I just read that Creative Commons has their own image search engine, out in beta. The search engine lets you find images licensed with Creative Commons from Flickr, MMA, New York Public library, Rijksmuseum, and The Met. This search engine is only for images. The old CC search is still available if you’re looking for other types of media.


Note that this post is written for my participation in #EdublogsClub challenge. The prompt was to “write a post about free web tools “.

Using Online Images

I believe that it’s important for us to teach/remind students to make sure that they have permission before selecting and using an image that they find online.  Remind students that just because something is posted on the internet doesn’t mean it’s okay for them to download and use it.

My favorite website for children to use is Photos for Class. The reason that I like this website best, is because the photo source is automatically posted on the image, so children don’t have to do an additional step to site the image. This is especially great for children in lower elementary. Sometimes, however, children have trouble finding images on Photos for Class. This is especially frustrating for students who have done the same search at home, in Google Images, where there are many more results.

My second favorite search tool is Google Advanced Image Search. Google Advanced Image Search searches the world wide web. You can filter out explicit results, and narrow your results to images that  you are free to use and share. See the image below to find those settings.

advanced-image-searchOnce you find an image on the web, you have to check the permission images to see what is required of you to use this image. You are usually required to cite the sources, and sometimes, to hyperlink to the original image. Some images are in the public domain and do not need to be cited.

There are a number of other specialty websites that help you find images that you have permission to use.

  • Creative Commons Search lets you search specific sites or databases for images, and other multimedia that are Creative Commons licensed.
  • Wikimedia Commons is a collection of user submitted images that anyone can use.
  • Flickr Creative Commons lets you find images that Flickr users have licensed for reuse using Creative Commons.
  • Tech for Learning is a library of images especially curated for educational use
  • UN World Library is a collection of historical images from the Library of Congress and UNESCO about our world.
  • Prints and Photographs from the Library of Congress is a collection of historical images from the Library of Congress
  • Free Photo sites is a directory of images collected from the world wide web, free for non-commercial use. Attribution is necessary for these images.
  • Trek Earth is a website that encourages people to learn about the world through photography. Images are organized by locations where they were taken.
  • Realia Project is a collection of images and media collected by faculty for use in learning and teaching modern languages.
  • Culturally Authentic Pictorial Lexicon is a selection of images specifically curated to support language learning. They bill themselves as “the source for authentic images for language learning.
  • Morgue File lets users (creatives) share photos for other people to use in creative endeavors. The website also indexes images from other sites.

Related Posts


Attributing Creative Commons Images

Whenever you find images for projects, blogs, presentations, etc., make sure that they are Creative Commons licensed. The Creative Commons license requires that you cite three things:

  • the Creative Commons (CC) license of the work
  • The title of the work (linked to the website where you got the image. This should not end in .jpg, nor contain
  • The author’s screen name

Need help to cite a flickr image? Go to

Add the attribution under the photo. If in doubt, use the format:

(Credit: Name by Author w/ CC License x.x)

The most important thing is to have the link, because then you can always fix the other details if needed in the future. If you can’t find the CC License, find a different image, or get the permission of the creator. I’ve had creators respond to my e-mails. Many bloggers are willing to share their images for reuse.