Stay home, be creative (if you want)

Our main goal here at RE:VIVE is to make evident the different ways we can use archives creatively, of course, for that to occur, archives need to be accessible and open for creative reuse – something which a lot of the time archives themselves do not have control over. That said, though the Covid Crisis has turned the world upside down in many ways; it also lit a spark for cultural initiatives and institutions around the globe to start giving access to their collections, by means of virtual tours, turning their festivals online, organizing online viewing sessions etc. Though we do hope some of these developments in terms of access remain available after this crisis is behind us – we wanted to also take this opportunity to consolidate a lot of resources, some existing for a long time now, some more recent, and give you an extra push to make the best out of the social isolation and get your creative juices flowing. 

Before you get into it, some things to remember: 

  • Double check the licensing – you can read up on the different Creative Commons licenses here.
  • Attribute credit – at least the archival source. Even though sometimes you don’t have to, It’s the nice thing to do 🙂 

Without further ado, here are some of our favorite resources (in no particular order):

Moving Image: 

Open Beelden

Starting off the list with a project that’s closer to home: Open Beelden. Open Beelden is a dutch heritage project. Within this project a number of Dutch moving image institutions came together to make available a lot of their open access films online. A huge number of these films are entirely open for creative reuse, you can check that in the left sidebar. You can also search and filter by rights, which can be very useful! 

Prelinger Archives

In terms of moving image collections, the Prelinger Archive is one of the first that is entirely open for creative reuse – in fact, they “warmly encourage” it. This archive was collected by Rick Prelinger who took it upon himself to “rescue” films – educational, safety, medical etc – from being thrown away. The collection soon grew and with the help of the Internet Archives a large number of the films was digitized. Again, everything in this collection is free for creative reuse – it’s also just fun to watch! 


Europeana is a long term European project which brings together thousands of European archives, libraries and museums to share cultural heritage. Not only for moving image and sound, you can also find books, artworks, photographs and articles. Not everything is free for creative reuse but you can filter the results according to licenses and there’s a lot you can use!

Selections from the National Film Registry – Library of Congress

Library of Congress is definitely one of the institutions that does a great job in offering their collections publicly and online. All of the streaming films in the Selections from the National Film Registry collection are in the public domain and most of them – I believe other than two titles – are downloadable! You can also have a look at the collection in their YouTube channel here.


RE:VIVE Sample packs

Obviously we’re going to plug our own work here! Since the beginning of this project one of our main outputs are the sample packs that we put together. These are collections of sounds that you can download and use freely. The collections are curated – sometimes in obvious categories like “storms”, “bells” and sometimes a bit more abstract like “heavy”. You can go ahead and download and play around with these sounds as you like!

Sounds of Changes

Sound of Changes is a cooperation between six museums in Europe that aims to document changes in the acoustic landscape. All of the sounds are free for creative reuse – in fact, it’s encouraged!


Sounds of space – how cool is that? What’s even cooler, is that you can go ahead and listen and download everything and re-use for whatever you want. They’re public domain but give NASA a shoutout cause they’re very cool. Inspiration needed? Willam Basinski’s latest album based on recordings of black holes is a good start. 

Musical Instrument Samples Database (University of Iowa Electronic Music Studios)

The sample recordings in University of Iowa’s Musical Instrument Samples Database have been collected since 1997 and are freely available on this website and can be downloaded and used for any projects, without restrictions. The database includes strings, winds and brass, percussion, and a Steinway piano! The history and archive pages show how the studios have developed over the years and include a wonderful set of Moog Demo mp3s by Peter Tod Lewis. 

Some more free to use sound collections that we like: 

If you don’t want to get creative and just want to watch films, check these out:

And don’t forget, this is a great time to check out free trials, just check the fine print!

Image via Wellcome Collection CC BY