Today marks the launch of the Art Project, a website that enables users to discover and view more than 1,000 artworks online in extraordinary detail.
Over the last 18 months, Google worked with a range of museums, including four from the United States: MoMA, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Frick Collection, and the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian, Washington, along with other art museums from Europe and Russia.
The partnership involved taking a selection of extremely high resolution images of famous artworks, as well as collating more than 1,000 other images into one place. It also included capturing 360-degree tours of individual galleries using Street View "indoor" technology. Anyone anywhere in the world will be able to learn about the history and artists behind a vast number of works.
Each of the museums worked in extensive collaboration with Google, from choosing which collections to feature, to advising on the best angle to capture photos, to determining what kind of information should accompany the artwork. Each museum also selected one artwork to be photographed in extraordinary detail using super high resolution, or "gigapixel" photo-capturing technology. MoMA's gigapixel photo is of Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night (1889). Each image contains around 7 billion pixels, enabling the viewer to study details of the brushwork and patina beyond that possible with the naked eye. In addition, museums provided images for a selection totalling more than 1,000 works of art. The resolution of these images, combined with a custom-built zoom viewer, allows art-lovers to discover minute aspects of paintings they may never have seen up close before. The gigapixel image of The Starry Night is accompanied by a MoMA-produced video that features visitors' points of view of the painting.
In MoMA's Street View, visitors can explore works by Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Odilon Redon, Henri Rousseau, Georges Seurat, and Vincent van Gogh. The info panel allows users to read more about an artwork, find more works by that artist, and watch related YouTube videos. The gallery interiors are also visible on Google Maps in Street View.