Iconautes : Images/Usages Project website

Vessels of the Argonauts for the wedding celebration of Cosimo de' Medici in 1608, Ships of Argonauts realized for the marriage of Cosme de Medicis in 1608: the ship of Asterion. Engraving, after Giulo Parigi. British Museum. (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Welcome, Iconauts*!

Images / Uses: The Project

The Images / Usages project launched in July 2017 and is managed by the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art on behalf of, and with funding from, the Fondation de France. This website documents information and resources gathered as part of the project.

The project aims to gain a greater understanding of how visual arts professionals source and use fine art images, and to take a closer look at the impact of the legal copyright framework on working practices. The project will also examine how interpretations of copyright legislation vary and guide current modes of image rights management by copyright owners, be they public or private. To this end, the team are conducting interviews with a cross-section of stakeholders from the worlds of research, education, museums and publishing, with artists and with legal advisors specialised in intellectual property. A report will be submitted to the Fondation de France at the end of summer 2018 and an international conference on image rights, research and teaching in art history from a European perspective will be held in the autumn of the same year.

Mare Imaginum

In the digital age, we are all Iconauts on a quest to source fine arts images. The websites we encounter along the way can uncover hidden gems or become the stuff of nightmares. Some websites are Ali-Baba caves that open sesame and generously offer their images for reuse and recreation. Others look more like terrae incognitae; off the map, poorly promoted, and of insufficient quality, proving surprisingly challenging to use, or prohibitively expensive. In general, for the Iconaut, the landscape is foggy, and navigation can be time-consuming and risky.

What we do

By associating this online platform with the current study, which is primarily intended for art historians and archaeologists, but also for all those who use visual art documents in their work, we aim to spread the word and facilitate access to useful content. In all sections of the site, particular attention is paid to the question of user practices and uses, and the conditions of access to images.

We cover the news of the subject in a broad sense, in both a French and international perspective. Our team presents curated selections of reference texts and promising initiatives (News), project reviews and best practices on the web (Articles), documentation on cultural Open Access sites as well as end-user licenses (Resources).

Feel free to share your suggestions, observations and experiences by writing to iconautes [at] inha.fr



* Iconauts – this playful term might remind you of the Argonauts, literally meaning “sailors of Argo”, the adventurers who took to the sea to recuperate the Golden Fleece. Sailors in a sea of images or icons, we are indeed all, iconauts.


Project Director : Martine Denoyelle, Conservateur en chef du Patrimoine, Chargée de mission Prospective Numérique à l'Institut national d'histoire de l'art

Project Manager : Katie Durand, Digital project manager

Project Assistant : Elli Doulkaridou-Ramantani, PhD student, Université de Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne

Technical Assistants : Alain Defrance, Service des Systèmes d'Information, INHA; Hélène Boubée, chargée de communication web, INHA.

Logo : Marc Riou, Service de la diffusion scientifique et de la communication, INHA.

The main outcome of the project will be a report entitled Droit des images, histoire de l'art et société (Image rights, Art History and Society). Based on interviews, consultations and working groups held with visual arts professionals in France and beyond, including researchers, artists, copyright specialists and professionals from the publishing, museums, heritage and digital sectors, the report will give an overview of the current situation in France, a list of best practices and a series of proposals based on models that have been tried and tested elsewhere. 

The report will be submitted to the Fondation de France and published on the project website in Autumn 2018.

14 October 2017

INHA Crowdsourcing Workshop: MagnaGreciaOpenData

Project poster - open the poster in a larger window

With the support of the Fondation de France, the INHA held a day long crowdsourcing workshop on the 14 October 2017 to contribute content to Wikipedia, Wikimedia and Wikidata. Assisted by expert Wikipedians, pHD students, post-doctorates and scholars specialised in Ancient Greece populated the Wikimedia repository with personal photos (under CC-BA-SY licenses), new or improved Wikipedia pages, and new categories to improve the quality of documentation in French.

This day is hoped to be the first of many in an effort to build an open and structured visual and textual repository on the topic. Further sessions are under discussion in France and abroad.

Project page (in French)  

Outcomes of the day (in French)

4 June 2017

Round table on Fair Use and Open Content: American responses to new practices in image use at the Art History Festival in Fontainebleau

Photo Anne-Lise Desmas

In the United States, the College Art Association (CAA) joined forces with several large museums to conduct a study into the use of fine arts images today. This resulted in the publication of the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts. Hunter O'Hanian (CAA), Mikka Gee Conway (Getty Research Institute) and Hana Leaper (Paul Mellon Center, London) presented the growing policy of opening access to images from an institutional perspective.

A second event was organised by ICOM on the 6 June at the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris: Copyright Flexibilities in the US and EU: How Fair Use and Other Flexibilities are Helping Museums to Fulfill their Mission. Following this a meeting was held at the Terra Foundation for members of the CAA and representatives of European countries.

Find out more on the College Art Association website.