AO News Summary: Google Art Project Launch Takes Museums Virtual

February 2nd, 2011

Screen shot, Palace of Versailles, via Google Art Project

Over 1,000 works from 17 museums are now available to view online in high-resolution, thanks to today’s launch of Google Art Project. Founded and headed by Amit Sood, the new site combines several Google applications to provide virtual tours similar to Google Street View, with a zoom-in feature and information on each work. Most noted is the the project’s use of gigapixel resolution—7 billion pixels—rendering a virtual view magnified greater than the naked eye could achieve; at this stage the extra gigapixel technology has only been employed on one work per musuem.

Screen shot, max zoom of Hans Holbein the Younger’s The Ambassadors (1533), via Google Art Project

More text and images after the jump…

Still, Art Project – Behind the Scenes, via Google Art Project

Navigating the 360-degree views of the museums is somewhat challenging—clicking arrows and plus signs, running into walls and blurred-out images—though nothing a little practice wouldn’t help. Yet as cutting edge as it may be, the Google Art Project is decidedly Old World, focusing on classical works as opposed to contemporary. Of the 17 museums included, 13 are in Europe and four in the metropolitan northeast of the US, failing to go beyond the two continents and not even making it to California, Google’s home. However, the project has hopes to expand to more museums, as well as feature more works from the museums already on board, as today’s launch was only “our first step toward making great art more accessible,” says Sood in a Google blog post.

Screen shot, MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art, via Google Art Project

Screen shot, The Frick Collection, via Google Art Project

Screen shot, Tate Britain, via Google Art Project

Still, Art Project – Behind the Scenes, via Google Art Project

-S. Sveen

Related Links:

Official site [Google Art Project]
Explore museums and great works of art in the Google Art Project [Google Blog]
Google’s Art Project Gives Big Picture [Wall Street Journal]
Google Takes Street View Into Art Museums [New York Times]
Google Brings Art on a Digital Trolley [Financial Times]
Google unveils online ‘Art Project’ but bestows new technology mainly on Old World museums [LA Times]
A Virtual Mega-Museum: Google Art Project Launches With Masterpieces from the Tate, MoMA, and Beyond [ArtInfo]