The New York Times
FEBRUARY 1, 2011, 2:55 PM
Google Takes Street View Into Art Museums
By NICK BILTON
Now that Google has conquered a majority of the earth’s major streets with its Google Street View project, the company is starting to move inside. It’s creating the Google Art Project, a virtual equivalent of 17 major art museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Britain and National Gallery in London, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, among many others.
Amit Sood, director of the project, said in a company blog post that the documentation of major museums began when a small group of Google employees with a passion for art started wondering how they could make major art museums, and the works they house, more accessible to people worldwide.
The new art project is housed at an interactive Web site, Googleartproject.com. Once inside the site, viewers can travel through a museum’s interior through the same technology used to navigate city streets on Google Maps and Google Earth. People can move from room to room within the virtual space; over 1,000 artworks painted by 400 artists can be seen.
Mr. Sood said the artworks were documented using an extremely high resolution technology, “gigapixel,” which allows people to zoom into the images to see detailed brush strokes and the subtlety of each artist. “Each of these images contains around 7 billion pixels—that’s around 1,000 times more detailed than your average digital camera,” Mr. Sood wrote.
The museum project is one of a number of digital explorations taking place in museums today as these venerable institutions struggle to adapt to the changing digital world.
The video below shows a behind-the-scenes look at the Google Art team building the site.