January 30, 2013

Google Art Museum

A new site from Google lets you check out some of the world's greatest art.

Scott: First, it found your house from space. Then it explored landmarks around the world, and then the depths of the ocean. Now, Google is giving you an up-close look at some of the world’s greatest art treasures without leaving your couch.

Daniel Sieberg: Nobody could ever visit all of these galleries and see every work of art in their lifetime.

Scott: More than 180 different art museums and galleries from across 40 different countries are opening up their doors to the public virtually through the Google Art Project.

Daniel: They were excited about the opportunity to showcase all of these amazing works of art to people who couldn’t potentially go visit them in the actual museum or gallery.

Scott: A few clicks gets you access to more than 35,000 works of art, from sculptures to drawings. And the project is still growing. It is all made possible by Google’s new trolley design.

Daniel: Something that would work in a museum space that was able to respect the environment that it’s in and still be able to capture that imagery in an immersive way.

Scott: The trolley uses technology similar to that used in Google’s popular Street View cars that maps out roadways in vivid detail.

Daniel: In some cases, we use our gigapixel camera, which is 7 billion pixels – that is a thousand times more powerful than your typical digital camera. So, you can get some amazing detail out of these works of art.

Scott: detail that allows you to zoom in and view art close enough to see the brushstrokes.

This is the Morgan Library Museum in New York City. Inside, there are many ancient manuscripts and documents which were collected by the wealthy banker J.P. Morgan during his lifetime. And it is one of the next collections to be added to the project.

When you walk into a space like this, it is hard not to spend a lot of time. In fact, when I walked in, I felt like it was like Bruce Wayne’s library.

Why was it important to be a part of the art project powered by Google?

Jennifer Tonkovich: Well, for us, we are always finding ways to make our collection accessible to students, to scholars, to the public – not only in New York City, but across the country and really across the world.

Scott: And the best part of it all, the art project allows you all of the virtual access to this library and all the other collections around the world for free. But a virtual tour could never be the same as actually walking through…

Jennifer: …a secret staircase!

Daniel: There is still nothing like being in a place like this, or the Met, or the Museum of Modern Art, and being surrounded by these works of art and being able to, kind of, have that kind of experience – and we know that. But, hopefully, this is something that is complimentary to that, it’s enhancing that and, most importantly, making it available to people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it.

Scott: Scott Evans, Channel One News.


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