That’s right, you can download works of art to your hearts content and use them any way you want from personal projects to commercial work for sale. If you want to put a photo of your great aunt Harriet in a Bierstadt painting and sell it on the internet, feel free.
“Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, announced today its adoption of a new policy: all images of public-domain artworks in the Museum’s collection are now available for free and unrestricted use.” (New York, February 7, 2017)
The announcement is here.
You can search for art work here.
Out of curiosity I checked the boxes on the search page and looked for Bierstadt, one of my favorite painters of the American west and found “The Rocky Mountains, Lander’s Peak”. The download size is 3811 x 2284 pixels which would print out at about 12.7 x 7.6 inches at 300 ppi, but you could resize (upsample) the image to make a 25 x 15 inch print. That’s not quite the same as having the original 6 x 10 foot oil painting hanging on your wall, but it is big enough to experiment with.
The daunting thing about the search page is knowing what to search for. It helps to know the names of some artists and photographers who have been gone long enough that their work is on the public domain (I tried Renoir), or you could take a stab at a generic subject like sailboats.
So head on over to The Met and have fun!