So what if you don’t have the monies to check out an exclusive Van Gogh exhibition at the TATE London, roam around at the Uffizi in Florence or fly out to MoMA in New York to check out a few modern artworks?
You can now log on to the Google Art Project website to check out the world of art inside out, stroke by stoke. Launched in Chicago in February 2012, the Google Art Project is like an online museum that houses 30,000 works of art from 151 museums across 40 countries and still counting. Works of art include paintings, historic and religious artifacts, drawings, important manuscripts, sculptures, photographs, audio guides, viewing notes, expertly narrated videos, detailed information, maps and so on, stated the Google Art Project website.
On 5 April 2012, two prestigious Indian museums namely the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) located in Kala Ghoda, the art precinct of Mumbai and National Museum in Delhi were added to Google Art Project’s repertoire of housing stunning collections, ET reported. This India chapter of the project will be formally inaugurated in Delhi on April 10. Although many online art galleries in India have very good collections of modern Indian and experimental art, the Google Art Project is another ballgame altogether simply because of its sheer international scale.
The project recently added the White House in Washington, SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia and the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar to its ensemble.
Here are some of the stunning features of the Google Art Project.
- High resolution imagery is used to give users a virtual tour of galleries around the world. Also, 46 specific artworks have been made available with gigapixel photo-capturing technology. This means that these works are photographed in great detail so that users can zoom into a work of art to view the texture of paint, brush strokes and even parchment cracks!
- Detailed street view images for 46 museums are available on the Google Art Project. Users can navigate through more than 385 rooms within galleries, art houses and listed museums. Users can virtually visit selected galleries in 360 degree view. Although Google Street View India entered into regulatory problems with the government when it was launched earlier, this time they have been successful in using it in India with due permissions.
- Google+ and Google Hangout have been integrated into the Google Art Project so that users can video chat with experts, art educators and connoisseurs provided by Google.
- Users can build their own galleries housing their favorite art and share it on social media. They can further edit, record and upload YouTube videos of their own galleries.
- Google Art Project will house more than just traditional fine art. This includes images of the Dead Sea Scrolls, digitized archives of famous figures in history, 3D models of 18th century French cities amongst many other interactive features.
- Sifting through so many artworks is made simple by the toolbar on the Google Art Project website. By clicking on Explore and Discover, users can find the exact work of art by type, period, artist, country etc.
- Videos from third parties and other art education content have also been included.
So how is this platform going to change our experience of consuming art? A few critics argue that the tangible and palpable feeling of seeing a work of art for real is irreplaceable.
Online art definitely means more access, wider distribution and more commercial success. But gaining an understanding of the more physical features of art such as canvas, texture, paint, size, colors reflected in the light and the sense of how it would look on the wall of your home are bound to be diluted.
But like every other technological advancement Google Art Project too attempts to carry forth the noble intention of increasing access to knowledge, drawing favorable and not-so-favorable criticisms.
On the other hand, the sunny side is way too obvious to mention. It would be a dream to look at the works of masters along with new and upcoming experimental artists from the comfort of your home.
For the first time, India will be able to showcase its wealth of art to the world – from the works of Tyeb Mehta, Raja Ravi Varma, Rabindranath Tagore and M F Husain amongst many others. The Google Art Project is being seen as complementary and not competitive to a physical museum visit. Not only will this access further pique the curiosity of art buyers but will also allow educators to introduce students to the world of art without physical boundaries. This will eventually lead to frequent visits to the actual museum.
"The art project is no longer just about the Indian student wanting to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, it is now also about the American student wanting to visit the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi." – Amit Sood, Head, Google Art Project [Source]
Give Google Art Project a spin and let us know what you feel!