The Smithsonian Institution has launched unprecedented access to American and Asian art collections with its Open F|S initiative. Open F|S provides full access to two Smithsonian collections: the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Open F|S offers a free public resource where anyone can explore 40,000 works of art, most in high resolution with no copyright restrictions. The bulk of the 40,000 works have never been seen before by the public.
In line with the public service approach, Open F|S users are encouraged to explore the myriad uses for the service, but the terms limit use to noncommercial activities. The initiative remains in beta. Beta testers will receive exclusive access to hackathon invitations, versions of future iterations and test releases. To further promote the service, museum insiders will share rarely seen favorites on a weekly basis through the "Friday Fave" series on the Bento blog.
Those interested can gain access to Open F|S at open.asia.si.edu. Open F|S represents the museum's largest digital initiative to date, and the Smithsonian compares Open F|S to other projects dedicated to global accessibility (e.g., Google's Art Project). While no mention of an API has been made, a comparison to Google's Art Project and hackathons suggests that the potential for API access to the massive art collection may be on the horizon. In addition to high-resolution images, Open F|S offers access to almost 400 full-length performances from Freer's Meyer Auditorium, 3-D models, public online exhibitions and free downloadable apps. To learn more, visit Open F|S and keep up with updates as the initiative grows.