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Use ArcGIS Living Atlas to create a custom basemap gallery

ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World is an evolving collection of authoritative, curated, ready-to-use global geographic information from Esri, and the GIS user community. It includes imagery, basemaps, demographics and lifestyle, landscape, boundaries and places, transportation, earth observations, urban systems, oceans, and historical maps that can be combined with your own data to create maps, scenes, and apps, and to perform analysis.

One of the most used types of Living Atlas content are basemaps. When you create a new map or scene, you can choose which basemap you want from the basemap gallery in the Map Viewer. By default, the basemap gallery for your organization is a pre-configured collection from Esri using the Living Atlas.

Basemap gallery
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There are many more Living Atlas basemaps to choose from, and you can create your own custom basemap gallery with the ones you like. Here’s how.


Create a custom basemap gallery

As an administrator of your organization, you can change which basemaps your organization uses by creating a custom basemap gallery. The custom gallery can include a combination of your own basemaps, plus Living Atlas basemaps. In this example, we will focus on using Living Atlas basemaps.

The steps to create a custom Basemap Gallery are:

These steps are detailed in Create a custom basemap gallery for your organization. This article will focus on the second step, adding maps from the Living Atlas to populate your custom gallery, and will assume you’ve already created a custom basemap group.


Create a group for your basemaps

Create a group that will contain the maps you want to use in your custom basemap gallery. The contents of this group will be shown in the basemap gallery for the Map Viewer or Scene Viewer. Click Create Group from the Groups tab.

Create Group

For more details on this step, see Create groups and Create a custom basemap gallery for your organization.


Add Living Atlas basemaps to your group

An easy way to find Living Atlas maps for your custom gallery is by browsing from the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World website.  If you have not done so already, Sign In at the top right of the website.

Sign In

Open the Browse tab.

Browse tab

Follow these steps to add Living Atlas basemaps to your group.

Step 1 – Choose the Basemaps category.

Basemaps category

Step 2 – From the drop-down list turn on Reference Maps, Creative Maps, and Vector Tiles.

Basemap categories

Step 3 – Choose Maps from the content type filter drop-down list.

Maps content filter

Step 4 – Check the box for Esri-only content.

Esri-only content

The above selections will present the Living Atlas maps that you can choose from to include in your gallery. This shortcut link will make the above settings.

Step 5 – Share a map into your group.

Browse the results, and when you find something of interest, click the title to learn more about the map.

Item title

Step 6 – Share the map into your organization gallery group.

Review the item pages to learn more about the map, and open the map to view it. To add it to your gallery group click Share.


Step 7 – Click Edit group sharing.

Edit group sharing

Step 8 – Select your organization’s custom basemap group.

Select customr basemap group

Step 9 – Click Save to add the map to your custom basemap gallery group.


Repeat the above steps as desired.


Other Living Atlas maps

The Living Atlas basemaps found above, along with others that are still under development, can also be discovered in other ways.

You can use Search to find Living Atlas maps you can add to your basemap gallery. This sample search will retrieve all map items matching the keyword “basemap” that are also marked as authoritative. Look for the the green Authoritative badge and the blue Living Atlas badge, and avoid using maps marked with the red Deprecated badge.

Living Atlas basemap

The following are a selection of groups containing additional Living Atlas map sources.

The link applies a filter for maps within each group. As mentioned above, look for the the green Authoritative badge and the blue Living Atlas badge, and avoid using maps marked with the red Deprecated badge.


Use the new basemap gallery

Now that you’ve collected the Living Atlas maps you want to use in a group, you can set the group as the basemap gallery source for your organization.

Administrators can do this by going to the organization settings, opening the Maps tab, and selecting your custom basemap group in the Basemap Gallery section. See Create a custom basemap gallery for your organization or Create Map – Basemap gallery for more details.


More information

For more information see the following.

This post was originally published on September 11, 2019, and has been updated.

About the author

Corporate technology evangelist and advocate at Esri, focusing on ways to broaden access to geographic information and helping customers succeed with the ArcGIS system. On a good day I'm making a map, on a great day I'm on one. Email or connect on LinkedIn (


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