google cultural institute

Google’s Online Art Museum Adds 3D Scans

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The Google Cultural Institute offers an impressive online library of art from museums from all over the world. While the project’s website has long featured the ability to use Street View to browse museums, all of the actual art, including statues, was only represented through high-resolution photographs. Starting today, however, Google will also feature almost 300 3D scans of objects from six museums that you can now get up close and personal with thanks to an in-browser 3D viewer.

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The six pilot partners for this project are the California Academy of Science, The Museo d’Arte Orientale, The Israel Museum,  The Kunsthistorische Museum Vienna, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (sadly the team didn’t scan Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass, though) and the Dallas Museum of Art.

The new 3D collection mostly features small objects (those are a bit easier to scan, after all). Not all of them are artworks, either. While the project features objects like the oldest mask in the world from the Israel Museum, the collection of objects from the California Academy of Science mostly consists of scans of animal skulls (which make up the bulk of the scans released today). The objects are all rendered in WebGL as far as I can see, so you don’t need a plug-in to see them.