Google launches virtual tour of world’s finest museums

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

LONDON - Google is harnessing its controversial Street View technology to take you on a virtual tour of the world’s finest museums, from the comfort of your home.

The search giant even claims its Art Project tours are better than the real thing, with one exhibit in each location available in a high-resolution image that goes beyond “what is possible with the naked eye”.

Each painting is captured in around seven billion pixels, making their online display around 1,000 times more detailed than an average digital camera.

Tate Britain and National Gallery here, Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg (Russia) and the Palace of Versailles (France) are among 17 museums that have collaborated with Google to offer 360 degree virtual tours of their galleries.

Other works of art which can now be seen in great detail include Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘The Starry Night’ from the Museum Of Modern Art (New York) and ‘The Ambassadors’ by Hans Holbein the Younger at the National Gallery, the Daily Mail reports.

Google said it took between four and eight hours to capture each painting in great detail with thousands of images which are “stitched” together.

The technology reveals hard to see details such as the tiny Latin couplet in Holbein’s ‘The Merchant Georg Gisze’.

Google has used its Street View technology to enable people to explore 385 gallery rooms around the world in the same way as they can wander down streets virtually with Google Maps.

Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota said the project “gives all our audiences an unrivalled opportunity to come really close to great works of art.”

Nelson Mattos, vice president of engineering at Google, said that “millions of children who will probably never have the opportunity to see these great pieces of art will now be able to do so online”.

Filed under: Science and Technology

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