July 30, 2014

Google goes local with expanded Art Project

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Google announced a partnership with Methaf and Museum of Islamic Art to bring its pathbreaking Art Project to Qatar. The partnership is part of a major global expansion of the project, which now counts 151 partners in 40 countries.

Thanks to Google, art lovers are able with a few simple clicks of their fingers 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.

All told, more than 30,000 high resolution objects are available, up from the original 1,000 in only nine museums. 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. Click here and take a look at the President’s Executive Office at the White House in Washington D.C. Explore the collection of the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar.

Continue the journey in India, exploring the Santiniketan Triptych in the halls of the National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi.

Key Features

Significant technical improvements have been undertaken. Street View images are now displayed in finer quality than the original version. Users may browse the content by the artist’s name, the artwork, the type of art, the museum, the country, collections and the time period. Google+ and video hangouts are integrated on the site, allowing viewers to create even more engaging personal galleries.

Key features of Google’s expanded Art Project:

Explore museums with Street View technology: using this feature, people can move around the gallery virtually on www.googleartproject.com, selecting works of art that interest them and clicking to discover more or diving into the high resolution images, where available.

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 385 rooms within the museums. The gallery interiors can also be explored directly from within Street View in Google Maps.

Super high resolution feature artworks:

Super high resolution feature artworks: around 40 museums selected one artwork to be photographed in extraordinary detail using super high resolution or ‘gigapixel’ photo capturing technology. Each such image contains around 7 billion pixels, enabling the viewer to study details of the brushwork and patina beyond that possible with the naked eye. Hard to see details suddenly become clear such as the tiny Latin couplet which appears in Hans Holbein the Younger’s ‘The Merchant Georg Gisze’. Or the people hidden behind the tree in Ivanov’s ‘The Apparition of Christ to the People’.

In addition, museums provided images for a selection totaling more than 28,000 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, such as the miniaturized people in the river of El Greco’s ‘View of Toledo’, or individual dots in Seurat’s ‘Grandcamp, Evening’

Create your own collection:

The ‘Create an Artwork Collection’ feature allows users to save specific views of any of artworks and build their own personalised collection. 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 or groups to work on collaborative projects or collections.

Discover, search, and explore:

With such large collection is was important for us to provide the tools that allow users to explore across partners using the discover tool, and then further explore artworks by that artist across all collections. A custom search integration makes it easier than ever to browse through collections, and find what your are looking instantly.

Multi platform support:

With this launch we have finally brought the Art Project to the tablet. The experience of viewing Art on a tablet and browsing through rich content truly comes to life. Currently we support the Android platform and are hoping to have the iPad version ready post launch.

Nelson Mattos, VP Engineering, Google, said, “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, added, “The new expanded Art Project demonstrates our commitment to all types of art – and cultures and civilizations all across the globe. The Art Project is no longer just about the Indian student wanting to visit MoMA in New York. It is now also about the American student wanting to visit the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi.”

Wassan Al Khudairi, Director of Methaf, said, “Nothing compares to seeing artwork in person, however the virtual tour and advanced features such as the detailed digital zoom afford us an amazing opportunity to share Mathaf’s collection and exhibitions with an even wider audience. This is especially critical when it comes to sharing the collection with students and researchers across the world who are looking for a resource on modern and contemporary Arab art.”

Aisha Al Khater, Director of the Museum of Islamic Art, said, “This project will further open wide the doors of the Museum of Islamic Art to a global audience. We are excited to learn from those online visitors as well—which artworks interest them the most, what interesting details they’ll discover via the high-resolution Gigapixel function for our selected object (a beautiful silk velvet textile made in Iran that was later owned by the maharajahs of Jaipur), and how viewers will create their own ‘collections’ from our own.”

The Art Project epitomizes 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.

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