Google has gone all high brow on us, unveiling its Art Project, a collaboration with art museums around the world to enable people to enjoy their collections without leaving the house. It’s powered in-part by Google’s Street View ‘indoor’ technology and started off as a ‘20% project’ – the time set aside for Google engineers to work on their own ideas.
Eighteen months in the making, Google says it’s worked with 17 art museums including, Altes Nationalgalerie, The Freer Gallery of Art Smithsonian, National Gallery (London), The Frick Collection, Gemäldegalerie, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, Museo Reina Sofia, Museo Thyseen – Bornemisza, Museum Kampa, Palace of Versailles, Rijksmuseum, The State Hermitage Museum, State Tretyakov Gallery, Tate, Uffizi and Van Gogh Museum.
The results consist of a slick website featuring “super high resolution images” of famous artworks, all nicely collated and supported by 360 degree ‘Street View’-style tours of individual galleries. Other Google tech tie-ins include videos from YouTube and those 360 degree tours of museums showing up on Google Maps.
As for the employment of Street View, a special ‘trolley’ was used by Google to capture those 360 degree images of the interior of various galleries, which were then stitched together to enable navigation of over 385 rooms within the featured museums.
And when Google says “super high resolution”, the company is referring to the use of so-called ‘gigapixel’ photo capturing technology. Each such image contains around 7 billion pixels, the search giant tell us, “enabling the viewer to study details of the brushwork and patina beyond that possible with the naked eye.”
There’s an e-learning angle too: The ‘Create an Artwork Collection’ feature enables users to save specific views of any of the 1000+ artworks and build their own personalised collection. Comments can then be added to each painting and collections shared.
To that end, works of art included in the project range from Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’ to Chris Ofili’s ‘No Woman, No Cry’, Cezanne’s post impressionist works to Byzantine iconography. In total, 486 artists from around the world have been included.