An optical disc hypnotically spins, showing robins and monarch butterflies take to the air. A couple twirls in a waltz through history.

Welcome to a penny arcade from another time, flickering with the vintage magic of phenakistoscopes and magic lanterns, praxinoscopes and cameras obscura. Before there were GIFs, YouTube, talkies or silent films, there were the entrancing moving pictures of the 1800s.

They are all in Wikimedia Commons, and we have rounded them up for you on Pinterest. Admission is free.

The Wikipedia Pinterest account pulls together collections of fascinating public domain and other freely licensed images and GIFs. It is a showcase of collections, a butterfly collection that comes to life before your eyes.

We also have a collection of Women Explorers You Should Know. Here is a 1917 photo of Fanny Bullock standing on Silver Throne plateau in Kashmir, elevation 21,000 feet (6,400 meters). She holds a newspaper with the blaring headline “VOTES FOR WOMEN.” Wanda Rutkiewicz, the first woman to successfully climb summit K2, pulls herself up a mountain, sweaty and smiling. The intrepid and sensational Nellie Bly stares at the viewer with the determination that powered her around the world in 72 days in 1889-1890.


Wikimedia Commons, bursting with 30 million media files and 100 million edits, has always held these kinds of delights. With Pinterest, the image-sharing social media platform, we can now showcase them in a new way. And because all the images and GIFs we share are public domain or CC0-licensed, you can share them too—or click through to see the Wikipedia articles featuring the media files.

Please join us on Pinterest and the community on Wikimedia Commons. There is much more to explore, and many more flickers to beguile.

Michael Guss, Research Analyst
Wikimedia Foundation

With the exception of the screenshot below, all images used in this post are in the public domain/CC0.


Screenshot by Michael Guss.