Feel like visiting Versailles, the Hermitage or the Uffizi Gallery but can’t afford the time off and a few thousand dollars for transportation, lodging and admission? Well, now you can. Google, in collaboration with 17 of the world’s most famous museums, has deployed its Street View technology to give you a virtual experience of visiting these repositories of art and culture. It’s called Google Art Project and it’s mind-blowing.
You can tour the museum just like you’re there in person, clicking on individual pieces you want to learn more about and see up close. There are audio tours and YouTubes created by the museum staff to provide you with more information on what you’re seeing. There’s also an Artwork View that shows featured pieces in seven billion pixels of detail; that’s 1000 times more detailed than a regular digital picture. It also includes an information panel with links to other works by the artist and related YouTube videos. Lastly, there’s a “Create an Artwork Collection” feature so you can save any of the art you like, add comments and share it with friends.
Not every gallery and artwork from every museum is in the Project. The curators of each museum chose what areas and pieces they wanted to focus on, and there are copyright issues that forced them to blur out certain images, so obviously it’s not the same as visiting in person (not that virtual tourism is ever the same as being there), but the high definition pictures of the featured artworks are so incredibly detail rich that you couldn’t possibly duplicate the experience in person.
These are the museums currently available for touring. Google will be adding more as they go along. Click the link to go directly to the Art Project tour:
- 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
Google Art Project has its own YouTube channel as well, with behind the scenes footage of how they photographed the museums. Here’s an overview video on how to navigate Art Project: