Free image databases Inspire article

The worldwide web is a wonderful source of information, but sometimes the sheer amount of content can be overwhelming. Where do you start looking? In each issue of Science in School, we will suggest useful websites for particular purposes.

Are you looking for a good picture to use in a worksheet, an overhead or a poster? You need it to be good quality, but you don’t want to pay to use it. Here is a selection of our favourite free image databases (you may even recognise some of the pictures).

The Multimedia Gallery of the European Space Agency (ESA) contains over 3000 images and videos, as well as other types of visual material about space.

The ESO Photo Gallery contains astronomical photos obtained with ESO telescopes, as well as images of ESO facilities, including the Very Large Telescope.

CERN’s Multimedia and Outreach database contains over 50 000 images related to the work of the world’s largest particle physics laboratory.

The multimedia database of EFDA-JET, Europe’s fusion experiment, contains many images and videos about fusion power and fusion research.

The image bank of, a website designed for communicators in particle physics, has an extensive database of beautiful images.

The image database of, which provides news, information and educational materials about the world’s light-source facilities, has a good variety of images.

The NOAA Photo Library contains images related to the work of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Wikimedia Commons is a repository of free photographs, diagrams, animations, music, spoken text, video clips, and media of all sorts.

The database provides over 2500 images covering a wide range of subjects, including science.

The image and video hosting website Flickr contains a wide variety of content uploaded by people from across the world. Many of the images have Creative Commons licences and so are freely available for use.

The BPoD (Biomedical Picture of the Day) website showcases stunning biomedical images that are provided by scientists from across the globe. The accompanying captions are engaging and written at a level suitable for schools.

If you use images from the databases listed above, it is advisable to check the conditions under which the images may be reproduced.



To suggest types of websites that you would like us to review, or to tell us about your own favourite websites, email In the subject field of the email, please include the text ‘Website review’.




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