Google Expands Art Project Globally

As part of a major global expansion of its Art Project, Google has signed new partnerships with 151 art institutions in 40 countries. More than 30,000 objects are now available to view online in high resolution, up from 1,000 in the first version of the Art Project. Street View images now cover 46 museums, with more on the way.

With a few simple clicks, art lovers can discover not just paintings, but also sculpture, street art, photographs, historic and religious artifacts, and important manuscripts.Creations from a wide variety of cultures and civilizations are represented, including Brazilian street graffiti, Islamic decorative arts and ancient African rock art.

Imaging experts photograph paintings at the Chateau De Fountainbleau in France.
Imaging experts photograph paintings at the Chateau De Fountainbleau in France.

The expanded Art Project includes a wide range of institutions, including large and small traditional art museums as well as less traditional settings for great art, including the White House in Washington D.C.

Some of the new partners in the U.S. include the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, the Cincinnati Art Museum, and the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, South Carolina.

New partners worldwide include: the Musée d’Orsay in Paris; the Museo del Oro in Bogotá, Colombia; The Rock Art Ressearch Institute in Johannesburg, South Africa; The Arab Museum of Modern Art in Qatar; the Museum of Modern Art in Sao Paulo, Brazil; the Tokyo National Museum in Japan; the Hong Kong Museum of Art in China; and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Australia.

According to Art Project head Amit Sood, the project was expanded worldwide because “It’s no longer just about the Indian student wanting to visit 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.”

How the Google Art Project Works

If you want to explore museums around the world without leaving home, you can enjoy either a “museum view” of various galleries within selected museums or get a “microscopic view” of selected artwork from each institution.

For the museum views, a specially designed Street View ‘trolley’ took 360 degree images of the interiors of selected galleries. These images were then stitched together to enable smooth navigation within each room. The gallery interiors can also be explored directly from within Street View in Google Maps.

Some of the 30,000+ high-resolution artworks were photographed in extraordinary detail using super high resolution or ‘gigapixel’ photo capturing technology. Gigapixel imaging technology can create files containing more than 7 billion pixels (about 1000 times more detailed than the average camera). With these super-high-resolution images, you can study details of the brushwork and patina beyond what is possible with the naked eye.

Discovering, Learning, and Sharing

You can browse the content of Google’s Art Project by the artist’s name, the artwork, the type of art, the museum, the country, the city and the collection. Using new Explore and Discover tools, you can find artworks by period, artist, or type of artwork from different museums around the world.

To help you learn more about the items each museum chose to display on Art Project, you can enjoy expertly narrated videos, audio guides, viewing notes, and other resources provided by the museums.

With the My Gallery feature, you can select any of the 30,000 artworks (along with favorite details) and build your own personalized gallery. You can add comments to each painting and share the whole collection with friends, family, and study groups. Google+ and video hangouts are integrated on the site to make it easy to share and talk about your galleries. You can upload and share audio and video content to your collections.

Some teachers have already begun using the Art Project in their classrooms. A dedicated Education section has been created for teachers and students.

For the next phase of the project, Google is considering developing an experimental section to show how artists are using new emerging technologies to showcase their art.  

Bringing Culture Online

“Google is committed to bringing all types of culture online and making it accessible,” says Nelson Mattos, VP of Engineering for Google. “The Art Project demonstrates how the Internet helps spread knowledge.”

Under the auspices of its 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.


Google Art Project

Art Project YouTube Channel


Google Art Project Lets You Visit Museums in Nine Countries


Google Art Project Lets You Visit Museums in Nine Countries

ARTISTS. On Feb. 1, Google unveiled the Art Project. It enables people around the world to discover and view more than 1,000 artworks online in extraordinary detail. For example, the image shown below is a close-up of Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” as you can view it on the Art Project page for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). When you visit the page, you can also see a MoMA-produced video featuring visitors’ comments on the paintings.

Google Art Project Close Up of Van Gogh's "The Starry Night"

MoMA is one of the 17 art museums from nine countries that have collaborated with Google over the past 18 months to launch the Art Project. The project will enable anyone around the world to take virtual tours inside the museums’ galleries and learn about the history and artists behind many of the world’s most valuable works.  

I’m writing about the Google Art Project here, because it’s further evidence of how advances in imaging technology are changing the way art will be viewed and shared in the future. This introductory project just hints at what will be possible in the years ahead.  

Some imaging professionals have already established new careers for themselves by helping museums create very detailed, high-resolution, color-accurate scans of valuable artworks for their archives. 

 By using the latest image-capture and assembly tools, the Google Art Project is going one step further. The project gives us online access to images with super-high ‘gigapixel’ resolutions. Some images of the artworks contain around 7 billion pixels, which is why you can pan around some paintings and zoom in to see brushstroke-level detail from a vantage point that was previously only seen by art restorers.  

To get started, go to the Google Art Project home page ( and choose which museum you’d like to “visit.” Then, choose either the “Explore the Museum” or “View Artwork” option.

The 17 participating museums are located in 11 cities in 9 countries:

  • The Frick Collection (New York)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York)
  • The Museum of Modern Art (New York)
  • Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian (Washington, DC)
  • National Gallery (London, UK)
  • Tate Britain (London, UK)
  • Museo Reina Sofia (Madrid, Spain)
  • Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (Madrid, Spain)
  • Alte Nationalgalerie (Berlin, Germany)
  • Gemaldegalerie (Berlin, Germany)
  • Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
  • Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) 
  • The State Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg, Russia)
  • State Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow, Russia)
  • Palace of Versailles (France)
  • Uffizi Gallery (Florence, Italy)
  • Museum Kampa (Prague, Czech Republic)


The “Explore” option uses Google Street View technology to let you explore a museum gallery the way you would use the Street View in Google Maps.  A specially designed Street View “trolley” (below) took 360-degree images of the interiors of 385 selected galleries within the museums.

These images were then stitched together into “panoramas” that enable smooth navigation of each room.  Some paintings on the walls appear blurred. In most cases, that’s because the museum does not own the copyright to those images. 

View and Learn
Each of the 17 museums selected one artwork to be photographed at super-high resolution with ‘gigapixel’ photo-capturing technology. The captures are so detailed, you can study details of the brushwork and patina beyond what is possible with the naked eye.

In addition, the museums provided high-resolution images for more than 1,000 works of art. When used with the Google Art Project’s custom-built zoom viewer, you can discover minute aspects of paintings you might 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.”  

You can learn more about each art work through the Google Scholar, Google Docs, and YouTube video links provided with each sidebar info panel.  

Each museum chose which collections to feature and what type of information to share about each piece. They also recommended which angles should be used during the image-capture process.

Collect and Share
If you have a Google account, you can save specific views of any of the artworks to build your collections. Comments can be added to each painting and the whole collection can then be shared with friends, family, or fellow art students. The integrated URL shortener can be used to share unique links to your collections via email or other web services.  

What’s Next?
Now that the project has been introduced, it will be interesting to gauge the public’s reaction. According to Google, “The project you see today is the very first incarnation, and we may well add more artworks and new rooms in the future.”

The Art Project was initiated by a group of Google employees who were passionate about making art more accessible online.  Amit Sood, the Google employee who heads the Art Project, believes they have created “what we hope will be a fascinating resource for art lovers, students, and casual museum-goers alike—inspiring them to one day visit the real thing.”

Many of the participating museums feel the same way. As Thomas Campbell, director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art puts it, “The Google Art Project coincides with a variety of Met initiatives that demystify the museum through digital means by sharing our collections and ongoing work with a broader online public around the world. Most important, these projects encourage people to visit museums and come face-to-face with great works of art.”

Dr. Nicholas Penny, director of the National Gallery, believes, “The Google Art Project is a powerful example of how digital technology can help art institutions work in partnership to reach out globally to new audiences and enable works of art to be explored in depth and with stunning clarity.”



The Google Art Project