Google Art Project

Google has just released a new product, Google Art Project:

It takes Google Maps Street View capabilities and brings them inside museums. You can wander around (select) galleries in the following museums:

  • Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin – Germany
  • Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian, Washington DC – USA
  • The Frick Collection, NYC – USA
  • Gemäldegalerie, Berlin – Germany
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC – USA
  • MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art, NYC – USA
  • Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid – Spain
  • Museo Thyssen – Bornemisza, Madrid – Spain
  • Museum Kampa, Prague – Czech Republic
  • National Gallery, London – UK
  • Palace of Versailles – France
  • Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam – The Netherlands
  • The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg – Russia
  • State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow – Russia
  • Tate Britain, London – UK
  • Uffizi Gallery, Florence – Italy
  • Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam – The Netherlands

Bowing to popular taste, they seem to have concentrated on Western paintings, especially the Impressionists. Here is a screenshot of a room in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You can wander through most of its adjoining rooms, except for the one with Picassos (probably due to copyright concerns.) Like Street View, the zooms pixelate quickly, so it is hard to read wall text.

To make the virtual visit more exciting, about 1000+ artworks have been photographed at a high resolution. Again, the selected works are mostly paintings from the greatest hits canon. The details available in these views are incredible — here is an extreme close-up of Van Gogh’s brushwork in Starry Night.

Alas, there is no way to download these wonderful images. If you have a Google account, you can create and share slideshows, called Artwork Collections.

I hope that some West Coast museums will participate and that a greater variety of galleries and objects will become available. I want to see the threads of tapestries, the pockmarks in a marble sculpture.