Virtual art feast: Google Art Project

I consider art museums to be sacred spaces. Whenever we travel, one (or more) stops must include a visit to a museum.


Visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in 2012.

But, sadly, I don’t get to them as often as I would like. I watch any TV show or DVD I can get my hands on that has to do with art museums, and love to dream about some day visiting these far away places.

But the bucket list of museums just got a little bit closer, thanks to computer technology. Enter: Google Art Project.

Just yesterday, I visited the Brooklyn Museum, the Hong Kong Museum of Art, the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art and more. How did I do that, you say?

Through the Google Art Project. It launched in February 2011 with 17 international museums allowing the public access to select high-resolution artworks in their collections. A recent update in April 2012 marked a major expansion to the Art Project when Google signed agreements with 151 museums from 40 countries. The platform now features 46 museums and 32,000+ artworks, with more on the way.

I want to give a big shout-out to a blog I follow Crenallated Arts for posting about this marvelous site. I had no idea it existed until this week.

Here are just a few of my favorite pieces:

  • Flowering Plum Orchard After Hiroshige” by Vincent van Gogh. I love the distinctly Japanese feel of this piece, something I haven’t seen much of in van Gogh’s work
  • Beautiful fritware tiles from Turkey painted in gorgeous patterns and stunning colors
  • A collection of Edward Hopper paintings and drawings from several American art museums
  • “Melencolia I” by Albrecht Dürer is a stunning engraving created in the 16th century by this accomplished painter and printmaker (be sure and use the zoom feature to view the intricate line work)
  • A drypoint and aquaint print “In the Omnibus” by Mary Cassatt, who is perhaps better known for her paintings (but I love this print!) and for hanging out with Edgar Degas and exhibiting with the Impressionists
  • And, no list is complete without an oil painting by one of my favorite Canadian painters, Tom Thomson. His iconic oil painting from the Art Gallery of Ontario entitled “The West Wind” was painted in 1917, his final painting before his death by drowning

These are some amazing pieces of art, but if you want a more intimate view of the piece in context of the gallery, just click on the Google “pegman” (if you’ve ever used Google Maps, he’s that little yellow person who takes you to “street view”).

First open the art you want to see, then click on pegman, and voila! Google places you in the gallery where the piece resides and you can enjoy a 360-degree view of the gallery and the piece. You can even go from the art you’re viewing and have a wander in the museum.

LINDA COTE-Google art-museum viewThis is the Woman Bitten By a Snake sculpture in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris by Auguste Clésinger. I remember being here in this very museum ten years ago. I absolutely adored the Musée d’Orsay for it’s stunning surroundings — it was a Beaux-Arts railway station built around 1900 that was converted into an art museum (opening in 1986).


Visiting Paris, France in 2003, a visit that included the Eiffel Tower, and many, many museums.

I love seeing technology used in ways that can enrich our access to and understanding of art.

As a visual person, I often use Google Maps to have a sneak peek at some place before I go there. But expanding this technology to include sneak peeks into many of the world’s finest museums is pure genius.

Today, many art museums have pretty robust websites of their own, but I love that you can visit one website, search by collection or artist, and have a virtual art world at your fingertips.

Does it replace visiting these places in person? Never, to my way of thinking.

But until my dream of travelling to the world’s finest museums becomes a reality, I plan to go museum hopping often with just the click of a mouse!

(And, if you go too, share your favorite pieces with me!)


6 responses to “Virtual art feast: Google Art Project

  1. Wow – thanks for the heads up Linda. What an amazing resource this is. I’ve just had a quick (virtual) gallop round MoMA New York from the comfort of my office chair 🙂

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