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AMICO Logo Art Museum Image Consortium: enabling educational use of museum multimedia
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spring 2001

What is AMICO?

AMICO (Italian for "friend" and pronounced like ah-MEE-ko) is the Art Museum Image Consortium, a unique collaboration of art-collecting institutions. Together, they?e formed a not-for-profit organization to enable educational use of their digital multimedia documentation.

Who are AMICO? Members?

Any organization with a collection of art can be an AMICO Member. Membership will grow in 2001 to include institutions of many types from around the world.? Applications for membership are being accepted now. AMICO's Members now comprise the following institutions:

Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Art Gallery of Ontario
Art Institute of Chicago
Asia Society Gallery
Center for Creative Photography
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Cleveland Museum of Art
Dallas Museum of Art
Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College
Denver Art Museum
Detroit Institute of Arts
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
The Frick Collection and Art Reference Library
George Eastman House
J. Paul Getty Museum

The Library of Congress
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Montréal Museum of Fine Arts
Mus? d'art contemporain de Montr?l
Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
National Gallery of Canada
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Philadelphia Museum of Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Jose Museum of Art
Smithsonian American Art Museum Walker Art Center
The Walters Art Museum
Whitney Museum of American Art

What is The AMICO Library™?

The AMICO Library is the compilation of digital multimedia docu?mentation of works of art contributed by AMICO Members. The Library launched in July 1999 and today contains documentation of approximately 65,000 works, from ancient to contemporary times. This will grow over time to include hundreds of thousands of works from all cultures and periods.

Who has Access to The AMICO Library?

Only authorized users of subscribing institutions and AMICO Members have access to The AMICO Library, for educa?tional purposes. Users include teachers, students, curators, museum visitors, scholars and artists.

How is The AMICO Library Made Available?

When subscribing to The AMICO Library educational institutions will select a distributor. Currently the Research Libraries Group (RLG) provides service, and additional distributors plan to come online later this year. Authorized users of AMICO Subscribers and Members then access the Library through a secure electronic distribution system. The full Library is not available on the public web. To make people aware of AMICO, however, thumbnail images and brief text descriptions of all works are available publicly at <>.

Do Users Pay to Gain Access?

Individual users don? pay, but educational institutions are charged an annual fee to subscribe to The AMICO Library. A subscription provides unlimited access to the institution? authorized users for an entire year. This fee pays for service and support and partially pays the costs of compiling the Library. Museums themselves pay the costs of digitizing works of art, and pay membership dues.

Will Anyone Make a Profit from AMICO?

No. Commercial use of The AMICO Library or any works that it contains is not allowed under educational licenses. AMICO? goals are educational and non-profit. We want to make art, including contemporary works, available for study in educational institutions.

2001 Update

Library Contents

The 2001 AMICO Library™ contains digital documentation of approximately 65,000 works of art from a range of time periods, object types and cultures.? Works from major European, American, and Canadian artists are included in the Library.? Works range from contemporary art, Native American and Inuit art, ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian works, Japanese and Chinese works, and more!

Cultures included are:

  • over 25,000 works from Europe, including ancient Greece and Rome
  • over 30,000 works from the Americas, including Pre-Columbian and Meso-American
  • over 6,000 works from Asia, including ancient Asia Minor
  • over 4,000 works from Africa, including ancient Egypt

Users will always find a catalog record for the work of art and at least one still image, which displays up to 1024x768 pixels. Many works include multiple views of the work and further multimedia documentation. This documentation includes:

sound and video of artists

curatorial commentaries on works

bibliographic references

conservation history

provenance data

scanned exhibition catalogs and publications

Library Subscribers

More than 130 colleges and universities in North America with over 1 million students currently subscribe to The AMICO Library™.? In January 2001, the AMICO Library became available for subscription to all of higher education (1.4 million students) in the United Kingdom through the Joint Information Systems Committee DNER Distributed Image Service. AMICO has acquired rights to distribute the AMICO Library™ worldwide in 2001-2002 and is currently negotiating with governments and distributors to make this possible.

Library Distributors

In 1998, the AMICO Library™ became available to a selected group of universities in a testbed project enabled by the Research Libraries Group (RLG). Since then, RLG has been the semi-exclusive distributor of the AMICO Library™, in conjunction with OhioLink which distributes to Ohio based universities and colleges. In the 2001-2002 academic year, several new distribution services will provide access to the AMICO Library with different interfaces and different value added contents. It is hoped that the provision of access by multiple distributors will create a healthy competitive environment from which customers will benefit.

Library Users

University faculty and students have been the primary users of the AMICO Library™ to date; in the academic year 200-2001, AMICO began a K-12 schools testbed in which the issues facing school teachers who want to use the AMICO resource are being explored. In the coming academic year, it is hoped to expand access by K-12 schools significantly and to provide an e-learning environment for delivery of the AMICO Library™ that will permit us to further define the needs of primary and secondary education for the AMICO Library™.?

How Do I Learn More?

To find out more, see the AMICO web site at <>. There you?l find more Member and Subscriber Frequently Asked Questions, Sample Records, and additional background documentation. Or, contact AMICO, via email: or by phone: +1 412-422-8533.

At the CNI meeting, Jennifer Trant, Executive Director and David Bearman, Director Strategy and Research will be available to discuss present achievements and future plans.


In June of 2005, the members of the Art Museum Image Consortium voted to dissolve their collaboration. This site remains online for archival reasons.