Just how brilliant is the Google Art Project,  which allows you to navigate through the galleries of the world’s leading museums and zoom in, in high resolution to get a Gigapixel look into masterpieces such as Rembrandt’s “Night Watch’’? 
Some days ago, on February 1, 2011 in London, Google unveiled the Art Project, an exclusive collaboration with some of the world’s much-admired art museums to allow online users to discover and view more than a thousand artworks in explicit detail.  Google has been working intensely over the past 18 months with 17 art museums - 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 outcome of this partnership is visible online as it includes a selection of Gigapixel images of famous artworks, as well as collecting more than a thousand other images into one place.  Furthermore, the Google Art Project includes 360° tours of individual galleries using Street View ‘indoor’ technology.  

This unique project allows for anyone, anywhere in the world to access art online and be able to learn about the history and artists behind a vast number of works, at the click of a mouse!  It can open so many doors in education, inspiring the talent of tomorrow by exposing them to work they might never have been able to get up close and personal with.  Furthermore, it is a great way to get people of all ages to get a tantalizing glimpse into art, when some of them might not have the time, nor the money to visit most of those museums.  I know that nothing is like looking at an art piece in real life, but it definitely gives the opportunity to so many people to experience art at the click of a mouse.  

Google in collaboration with the 17 museums has worked so closely and extensively on this project where the museums provided their expertise and guidance on every step of the project.  The museums advised on the best angles to capture photos and on what kind of information should accompany each artwork.  In addition, it has managed to expose to the general public 17 of the world’s greatest museums through digital means.  The key features of this project are the exploration of the museums with Street View technology, allowing for a 360° tour,  super high resolution feature works as well as the ‘Create an Artwork Collection’ feature which permits users to save specific views of any of 1000+ artworks and generate their own personalized collection.  Moreover, comments can be added to each painting and the whole collection can then be shared with friends and family.

Many have criticized this collaboration so far, as they believe that the ultimate goal set by Google and the museums will not be achieved.  The goal being that this project will encourage people to visit museums and come face-to-face with great works of art.  To be honest, I really don’t have an answer, but one thing is for sure that this tool will without doubt make people more aware about masterpieces that have formed the world of art to what it is today!

Google Art project // Travel to the Museums of the World Online!

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