Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

How to print and frame free museum download art prints (the fastest and cheapest way)

I am a big fan of museum art downloads for unique art in my home, but it can be tricky to navigate getting them from the screen to the frame. I’ve tried several different methods and while my favorite is definitely custom framing (I use Art to Frames), if you’re trying to fill a cool vintage or thrifted frame or want to do it really low-budget, you can definitely print yourself, too. I recently made over several thrifted frames for some very pretty vintage art from open sources, and really updated some spaces in my home!

How to print and frame free art downloads - quickly and affordably

I'd love to share how I do this to make it easy for you! First you'll need the art--I have a couple of round-ups and I always link to the pieces I've used; check out my art downloads posts. But I also highly recommend the free print shop by fellow blogger A Home Is Announced. She's put together a bunch of collections (portraits, botanicals, etc.) of art and linked them all back to the original museum sources. 

Once you've picked out a few pieces you like, some things to consider:

  • One challenge with older art prints is they are not usually standard sizes. Sometimes you can get creative and either crop the edges of the art without losing any of the star of the piece (like I did with the horses print in my breakfast nook), or use a mat that hides some of it and trim some of the outer part of the print. But unless you go custom, you'll have to stick with pretty standard sizes when you’re ordering prints. See my tip below about resizing.
  • My favorite place to order these prints made is Mpix because you can do the giclée print which has an option for super matte. If you order a matte photo or poster from Walgreens, even the matte option looks like a photograph, not a sketch or watercolor. However the quickest option, which works pretty well, is ordering heavyweight prints from FedEx. You can pick up same-day and they have an 80 pound cardstock option that makes a pretty high-quality print. It’s still a little bit shiny and I would prefer super matte giclée, but these are like $2 each and really fast.
  • If you're printing oil paintings, you can remove the glass to get a more authentic look. In that case I definitely recommend ordering on matte giclée with matboard backing (an option at Mpix). That's what I did for this piece and the two oil painting downloads for this project. You can even add brush strokes with Mod Podge to get the oil painting texture!, though I haven't tried that yet.

So here are my steps for printing and framing museum downloads, the cheap way (that is, not the custom route).

  1. Select options that look like roughly the right size and proportion for your frame. If you have an 8 x 10 frame, you can pick from a lot of different museum pieces that may have originally been 10 x 14 or something else not standard, but not too far off. Don’t pick something that was a tiny hand sketch and blow it up, and it probably won’t look very authentic to choose some thing like a huge detailed impressionist portrait or still life and shrink a really small. Also, if you want to do something really tall and skinny like this tree download I did, I really recommend going custom. You can just upload the image to Art to Frames, pick your height or width, crop if you want, and pick the frame and mat to the exact right size.
  2. Download the highest quality version of the image and use simple software to resize it. You could probably even do this in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, but I used Bluebeam PDF tool and I’ve also used my free photo editor, Google Picasa. Obviously something like Photoshop is probably better if you know how to use it. But anything where you can change the page size to the standard page sizes at FedEx will let you see how your print will fit. But note: if you have an 11" opening, you probably won’t be able to fill it with an 11" wide piece of paper and will need to do it sideways on an 11 x 14, because the outer 1/4" or so gets cut off in printing.
  3. Clean and refresh frames and mats. They are often beyond dusty. Take everything apart and clean both sides of the glass with rubbing alcohol or window cleaner. On several of these I've done, I've spray painted dated colored mats with matte white spray paint. It actually looks really good. I did that on all four of the ones in these photos! 

This is what these oval mat frames over our bed looked like before!! I liked the carved wood frames but the blue and white mat is actually printed, not a real double mat, and it plus the 80's stick horses are not my taste or probably anyone else's right now. Spray painting the mats gave these frames a new life!

Honestly the placement of these prints above the bed is a little weird... I'm just playing around, and it was feeling too plain before. I do like the vintage charm it brings to this view!

The flowers were pretty easy to frame in the oval mats; I printed them at 8 x 10 and they have a lot of empty space around them as-is.

I also did a pair of non-matching frames in our breakfast nook. What I did for the 4 x 6 little watercolor on the top (proportions actually 4 x 7 or so) was shrink and center the download on an 8 x 10 document. Then I printed it as an 8 x 10 with a very large blank border and I was able to just line it up and frame it.

The horse print on the bottom is in an 8 x 10 opening but has more like 9 x 10 proportions, so I just cropped the top and bottom which don't have any art on them (in Picasa, before ordering the prints).

I really love this update to our breakfast nook!

Below are some sources for some pieces I used and considered for these frames! I found several of these through A Home Is Announced public domain print shop but here are the museum/original source links.


  1. Bouquet with Peonies, from Collection of Different Bouquets of Flowers, Invented and Drawn by Jean Pillement and Engraved by P. C. Canot | The Art Institute of Chicago (artic.edu)
  2. Bouquet with Roses, from Collection of Different Bouquets of Flowers, Invented and Drawn by Jean Pillement and Engraved by P. C. Canot | The Art Institute of Chicago (artic.edu)
  3. Horses: Drie zwarte paarden staand naar links kijkend, RP-T-2010-43-352.jpg - Wikimedia Commons


  1. Flowers | The Art Institute of Chicago (artic.edu)
  2. Landscape | The Art Institute of Chicago (artic.edu)
  3. Landscape with a Rainbow | The Art Institute of Chicago (artic.edu)
  4. Jeanne Pontillon | The Art Institute of Chicago (artic.edu)
  5. Gladioli - Flower Study #4 | The Art Institute of Chicago (artic.edu)

Hope this was helpful and you feel ready to print and frame whatever art you want!!

No comments

Post a Comment


© Create / Enjoy • Theme by Maira G.