It is in the humble opinion of your writer that arts education is alarmingly poor in America. Art curriculums are typically the first to be cut from any tightening school budget. Consequently, any effort to make the arts more accessible to all is sincerely appreciated. This particular example, however, is worthy of significant highlighting. It is Google's newly released Art Project and we're stunned at what they have been able to achieve as well as its future potential.
For Google to surprise us is no small task since our expectations are already so high. But every now and then they go above and beyond the call of duty. The most recent example being Art Project which was launched the beginning of February. Google has teamed up with some of the most celebrated art museums across the world to bring together an impressive collection not only of 1,000+ high-resolution artworks, but Street View-style navigation throughout the museums themselves. And of course, it is all 100% free.
Amit Sood, head of the project describes the impetus for such an endeavor:
"It started when a small group of us who were passionate about art got together to think about how we might use our technology to help museums make their art more accessible—not just to regular museum-goers or those fortunate to have great galleries on their doorsteps, but to a whole new set of people who might otherwise never get to see the real thing up close."
There is a lot to explore in this incredible new site but we'll highlight a few of the amazing features for you here:
- 360 degree navigation of some of the world's most prominent art museums For the first time ever, anyone with an internet connection is now able to stroll through the prestigious halls of internationally-known museums. Thanks to the same technology that brings us Google's acclaimed Street View, you're now able to explore various rooms and artworks in the museum galleries as if you were visiting it yourself.
- Incredible high-resolution imagery of over 1,000 artworks
Being a college student, I have access to various image databases and I can assure you I've never come across such quality images as the ones you'll find here. Your experience of the work is on a much more intimate level than any real-life scenario could provide. You can literally see the globs of oil pain, built up in layers on the Van Goghs. This unprecedented quality is sure to inspire and entice artist and enthusiasts alike who have always desired a more close examination of the work.
- Rich supplementary content
When viewing any work of art, a side bar of information is provided along with it which includes its location in the museum, its history, artist information, relevant YouTube videos, and more. This is a phenomenal resource for someone who is just beginning to discover a particular artist as they can easily delve into their body of work.
These are just some of the incredible features we've found in Google Art Project. As expected, there are a few kinks still to be worked out (such as a buggy drop-down menu experienced in Safari). But we're looking forward to see where they take this incredible service. Returning to the initial point of arts education: of course this can't replace the experience of seeing the artwork and museums in real life. But for so many people that simply isn't a possibility. Google is now providing an invaluable service and experience for so many, young and old, to access information in a rich and intelligent format (the UI, by the way, is beautifully and intuitively designed). I'll never know what it is like to grow up with a resource like this at my disposal but I can only hope elementary and high school teachers will take note of this revolutionary new educational resource that they can refer to in their curriculum.
Hats off to you, Google.
[All images via Art Project]