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Google goes global with expanded Art Project

3rd April 2012 Print

From now on, with a few simple clicks of their fingers, art lovers will be able to discover not just paintings, but also sculpture, street art, and photographs. Creations from a wide variety of cultures and civilizations are represented, including Brazilian street graffiti, Islamic decorative arts and ancient African rock art.

The project has expanded dramatically. More than 30,000 objects are available to view in high resolution, up from 1,000 in the first version. Street View images now cover 46 museums, with more on the way. A wide range of institutions, large and small, traditional art museums as well as less traditional settings for great art, are represented in the expanded Art Project. Viewers can look at the White House in Washington D.C., explore the collection of the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar and continue the journey in India, exploring the Santiniketan Triptych in the halls of the National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi.

In the UK, 10 new gallery partners were announced to join existing British partners National Gallery in London and the Tate Britain, including Dulwich Picture Gallery; the Royal Collection; Victoria and Albert Museum; Serpentine Gallery; Imperial War Museum; National Galleries of Scotland; and the Jewish Museum, among others.

Key features of the new Art Project:

Users may browse the content by the artist's name, the artwork, the type of art, the museum, the country, the city and the collection. Google+ and video hangouts are integrated on the site, allowing viewers to create even more engaging personal galleries.

A specially designed Street View 'trolley' took 360 degree images of the interior of selected galleries which were then stitched together, enabling smooth navigation of over hundreds of rooms within the museums. The gallery interiors can also be explored directly from within Street View in Google Maps.

More than 30,000 artworks are featured in high resolution. Some have been photographed in extraordinary detail using super high resolution or 'gigapixel' photo capturing technology, enabling the viewer to study details of the brushwork and patina beyond that possible with the naked eye.

An enhanced My Gallery feature allows users to select any of the 30,000 artworks - along with their favorite details - and 'build their own personalised gallery. Comments can be added to each painting and the whole collection can then be shared with friends and family. It's an ideal tool for students.

The new Art Project includes other completely new tools called Explore and Discover. Users can find artworks by period, artist or type of artwork, displaying works from different museums around the world.

Nelson Mattos, VP Engineering, Google: "Google is committed to bringing all types of culture online and making it accessible. The Art Project demonstrates how the Internet helps spread knowledge."

Amit Sood, Head of Art Project, Google: "The Art Project is going global, thanks to our new partners from around the entire world. It's no longer just about the Indian student wanting to visit Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It is now also about the American student wanting to visit the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi."

Dr Nicholas Penny, Director of National Gallery, London: "The Google Art Project has enabled museums to showcase some of their greatest and most iconic works of art using Google's "street view" technology. In addition, Holbein's Ambassadors, one of the best-known paintings from the National Gallery in London has been singled out from the collection to be viewed in extraordinarily high resolution. Viewers will see details and explore the painting in a way that hasn't been possible before. The Google Art Project is a powerful example of how digital technology can help art institutions work in partnership to reach out globally, to new audiences, and enable works of art to be explored in depth and with stunning clarity."

Damien Whitmore, V&A Director of Programming and Public Affairs: "The V&A is passionate about sharing its rich and diverse collections with the widest possible audience and we are delighted to be part of this new phase of the Google Art Project. Some of the V&A's greatest treasures will be able to view in extraordinary high resolution for the first time - from the famous Gloucester Candlestick, a masterpiece of English metalwork to the Ardabil Carpet, one of the largest examples of Islamic carpets in existence, the wedding suit that the Duke of York wore to his wedding in 1673 to one of the finest examples of Donatello's work in relief."

Jemima Rellie, Director of Publishing and New Media for the Royal Collection: "We are committed to broadening public access and showing the Royal Collection in new contexts. We are excited to join Art Project, which we see as a natural extension of our loans and exhibitions programme."

Ian Dejardin, Sackler Director of Dulwich Picture Gallery: "Isn't technology wonderful? Dulwich Picture Gallery, in all that it does, is always striving to reach out to new audiences, in particular those who find access to art challenging. Google Art's extraordinary initiative suddenly makes that reaching out global, allowing an astonishing level of detail to be appreciated on works of art that may be physically confined to their Gallery, but which now can fly! We are delighted to be partnering with Google on this transformational project."

David Spence, Interim Director of the Museum of London: "We are proud to be partnered with Google Art Project. The Museum of London's vision is to create a revitalised, world-class museum and what better partner to work with than a world-leading company like Google.  We are committed to exploring innovative ways to increase access to the collections that we hold; Google Art Project is an ideal way to do this. Alongside our own digitisation project, Collections Online, Google Art Project is enabling the Museum of London to display rarely-seen objects from our stores, sharing our wonderful collections with everybody worldwide, from those with an interest in the city's history through to academic researchers. Google Art Project will help us share our passion for London."

Diane Lees, Director-General of Imperial War Museums: "IWM's art collection is one of the most important representations of twentieth century British art in the world, featuring works such as John Singer Sargent's epic 'Gassed', capturing the aftermath of a gas attack in the First World War, through to Paul Nash's 'Battle of Britain' and Stanely Spencer's 'Shipbuilding on the Clyde'. Google Art Project is a fantastic opportunity for audiences across the globe to discover and see up close some of the most iconic works in our collections created by some of Britain's greatest and most enterprising artists."

Julia Peyton-Jones, Director, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director, Serpentine Gallery: "The Serpentine Gallery is proud to be Google Art Project's first architecture partner. This collaboration is an opportunity to experience once again eleven extraordinary temporary buildings by some of the world's leading architects and to engage with the pioneering public programmes and Marathon events held here over the last decade."

John Leighton, Director-General of the National Galleries of Scotland: "The National Galleries of Scotland are delighted to be involved in the Google Art Project. The public will now be able to access high resolution artwork images from the NGS collection using the amazing Google Art interface which we feel complements our own website. It will also give our collection greater online visibility and reach, in a project that brings the world's leading museums together."

The Art Project illustrates Google's commitment to bringing culture online and making it accessible the widest possible audience. Under the auspices of the Cultural Institute, Google is producing high resolution images of the Dead Sea Scrolls, digitizing the archives of famous figures such as Nelson Mandela, and creating 3D models of 18th century French cities.