Press release

Free, unlimited access to 2000 years of mankind and medicine in pictures

Teachers, students, academics and the public will be able to download and use images depicting 2000 years of mankind and medicine for free, thanks to a newly launched website from the Wellcome Trust.

Launched today, Wellcome Images is the world's leading source of images on the history of medicine, modern biomedical science and clinical medicine. All content has been made available under a Creative Commons Licence, which allows users to copy, distribute and display the image, provided the source is fully attributed and it is used for non-commercial purposes.

Wellcome Images is constantly updated with new clinical, biomedical and historical images from the Wellcome Library, Europe's leading resource for the study of history of medicine, which recently re-launched as part of the new Wellcome Collection.

Everything from an oil painting of Florence Nightingale and a picture depicting Charles Darwin as an ape, to a photograph of Alexander Fleming in his laboratory are part of this unique collection. The images aid teachers and researchers to illustrate themes from medical and social history through to contemporary healthcare and biomedical science, and to bring complex biomedical concepts to life. Catherine Draycott, Head of Wellcome Images, explains:

"Wellcome Images is an invaluable tool for teachers and researchers of medical history, health, and clinical and biomedical sciences. Through visuals users are able to develop a more profound understanding of human and animal biology, and can use them in their research and teaching. What is unusual for a picture library of this nature is that the online service is completely free.

"A range of diverse industries currently use our images - including teachers, publishers, broadcasters and academics. By involving these user groups in developing this new site, we believe the enhanced interface will be easier and faster to use."

Professor Hal Cook, Director of The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, comments:

"The Wellcome Library's collection of images that appears online is simply superb. Full of visual resources from antiquity to the present, from Chinese medicine to molecular models, from portraits of individual people to scenes of medical practice, it is an invaluable resource for teaching and research in the history of medicine and related subjects. The new website greatly facilitates viewing the images, making them more accessible; this is a big step forward in the Library's efforts to serve all the members of the public who have an interest in medicine's past."

Users of Wellcome Images will also be able to access the advice and expertise of professional picture researchers who are qualified scientists or historians. They can help users find images, provide background information, commission new images to be taken and provide access to high-resolution images.

Wellcome Images, previously known as the Wellcome Trust Medical Photographic Library, will allow unlimited access to the vast catalogue of medical images, manuscripts, and illustrations exploring the meaning of medicine, its history and current practice.

Each year, the Wellcome Trust runs the Wellcome Images Awards (previously Biomedical Image Awards), recognising scientists and photographers who have contributed their own images to the website. The resulting public exhibition is extremely popular and attracts widespread media attention.