The first Sunday of every month, admission to the Philadelphia Museum of Art is free (pay what you wish, technically). In high school, I took liberal advantage of this opportunity. Exposure to art changes your perceptions and broadens your options for response to the world around you. Immersion in the historic and contemporary output of creative people not only shapes your understanding of the past and of other cultures, but also your understanding of human thought and emotion. Visual art inspires reflection and discussion in ways that no other medium can. Put simply: art inspires. I can think of no better way to spend a Sunday.
The Getty is ushering in a new era of free and easy access to art by sharing high quality images of artwork they own online. They’re making everything they can (those works not under copyright or other restriction) freely available for download, use, sharing, and remixing as part of their Open Content Program. This means that not only can you be inspired, you can easily build on what came before–this is an operant definition of culture.
I sincerely hope other museums and cultural institutions follow suit. In the meantime, I hope everyone visits The Getty’s Open Content Program, takes in the art, shares the experience with their friends and family, and maybe even starts to create something themselves.