Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Google Art Project

Famous works of art, located all over the world, have just become a lot more accessible. Seventeen of the world’s most prestigious art museums can now be explored by anyone, from almost anywhere in the world, for free.

Google Art Project doesn’t just show photos of paintings and other works of art, it provides a truly interactive experience. It uses Street View technology so not only can users view the artwork, but they can literally navigate through the museum as if they with there--without all the walking, of course! Once users do focus in on a piece an art, they have an advantage over museum visitors. From their computer they are able to zoom in on a work, view other works by the same artist, and even watch related YouTube content. Lastly, like so many new and successful technologies, Google Art Project allows users to customize their experience. Users can choose their favourite pieces and create their own collection. In their collection they are able to add comments, and even share the whole thing with friends and family.

An even more exciting possibility are the pedagogical applications of the project. Art teachers could create collections relevant to their lesson plan and send a copy to all of their students. They could include their notes on the works, allow students to comment and discuss online, and it could be accessed by everyone from home or the library without all the photocopying.

I spent some time in Italy this summer and was lucky enough to tour Florence’s Uffizi Gallery in person; however, if you haven’t been to the Uffizi, you can now see a close-up of Carvaggio’s Sacrifice of Isaac. If you haven’t been to Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza like me, you can now view the paint-strokes in Degas’s Swaying Dancer. And if despite living a few hours away you haven’t gotten to Ottawa’s National Gallery of Canada you can even get a close-up of all the figures in Wertinger’s Summer.

On a similar note, Israel’s Holocaust museum in Yad Vashem, recently worked with Google to create an online archive of some of their collection. Much like Google Art Project, this archive has made thousands of photos and documents a lot more accessible. It’s possible that in the future Yad Vashem’s entire museum could be available online in the same way.

Casandra Campbell

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