The J. Paul Getty Museum

One of our favorite institutions that shares digitized medieval manuscripts online is the J. Paul Getty Museum. The reasons for this are many and we will go through them in this post. But first we’ll let some images talk:

This is just a small fraction of all the Objects available on the website. There are at least 107 different digitized medieval manuscripts available and each one of them is stunning.

A Few Words on the J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum, or simply: “The Getty”, is an extremely well-known museum in California. Its evaluated 1.3 million yearly guests makes it one of the most visited museums in the United States. It is home to a sensational collection of manuscripts, started in 1983 with the acquisition of over a hundred manuscripts from Peter and Irene Ludwig, one of the greatest private collections of medieval manuscripts of that time. Nowadays, J. Paul Getty Museum almost constantly rotates exhibitions of these precious books. A very interesting article on the current activities of the museum can be found here.

The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew – MS. 34, F. 172A
The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew MS. 34, F. 172A, on my wall. Like a Boss.

Accessing the Digitized Manuscripts

Navigating through the available digital manuscripts is quite easy, although there is a lack of filters (date, place). The Getty’s manuscripts are divided in


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And then sorted chronologically (oldest to newest). This is not ideal but it works well, especially for the medieval enthusiast who wants to enjoy some awesome medieval miniatures. Researchers, however, might hope for those filter to be implemented soon.


Here you can see one of the ways we have used the images available: we made videos! One of the best aspects of the available medieval manuscripts from the J. Paul Getty Museum is the copyright with which the images are protected. The Getty shares their images under an open content program. This means that anyone is allowed to use the images in any way they please, even commercially . In our case we have used the high quality images available to make full HD videos and high quality posters.We are also using the images to make some experiments on how to navigate through a digitized medieval manuscript leaf (More on this in the following weeks…). When you choose to download an image you are taken to web page which asks you How you are going to use the image. The answer you give to this question doesn’t determine if you will be able to download or not, but it will help the J. Paul Getty Museum to optimize their service in the future.

Image Quality

The quality of the digitized manuscripts is amazing. The images you download our very high quality and in very high-resolution and this allows users to create beautiful content. The colors are balanced and show a good contrast. The sizes of the images varies greatly, but you will never find an image under 2000 px by 3000 px.

Final Thoughts

The only negative side that we were able to find is the fact that not all the manuscripts from the J. Paul Getty Museum are completely digitized. Certainly the most beautiful and impressive miniatures are present but the leaves containing only script are difficult to come by. This is a bit of a shame, especially for researchers who might be hoping for more digitized folia from the manuscripts, but we are certain that in the near future more and more digitized manuscripts will become available.

As always, you can find the link to the Getty Museum on our renewed DMMapp!

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Giulio Menna
Giulio is an MA graduate in Book and Digital Media Studies from Leiden University, the Netherlands. He is also system librarian at Leiden University Library. Founder and developer of Sexy Codicology and the DMMmaps Project; lover of medieval manuscripts and of all things digital.