The best thing that’s happened online for art and culture lovers is Google Art Project, an ongoing effort that creates 360-degree views of museum galleries and close-ups of artworks, and presents them online in a way that allows visitors to take virtual tours. By now, Google Art Project has made available tours of more than 250 museums in 40 countries, including the Uffizi in Florence and Kuwait’s al Sabah Collection.
You might live near some of the world’s great art museums, but Google’s initiative offers a different experience altogether. For one thing, visiting online gives you the ability to zoom in on artworks that otherwise you would only see from a distance. Plus, sometimes you can’t make the trek or just don’t want to fight the crowds.
Recently, one of New York’s treasures, the Morgan Library & Museum, joined the Art Project’s vast offerings; as of now a little more than 90 of the Morgan’s artworks are included in Google’s online gallery.
Using the Morgan, we’ll walk through the Google Art Project experience.
Take an Up Close Tour
Do you read French? Use your computer track pad or mouse to zoom in and read a letter Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his friend Paul Gauguin; click here to access it. Study his spidery handwriting up close and enjoy the sketch of what would later become his painting “The Bedroom.”
Learn about how Dürer prepared his print “Adam and Eve“ by taping together scraps of paper (click here). Scroll over Turner’s “Lucerne from the Lake” and look as closely as you like by using the little plus and minus icons in the Explore window (click here).
The 360-degree View
Want to roam around the Midtown mansion’s rooms? Click on the details box on the Morgan’s main collection page and then on “See in Museum View” to roam around the Midtown mansion’s rooms (click here to start). This tool can take a little getting used to. There are white arrows as well as a navigational compass to click on, which allows you to move around the building. Don’t miss the ceilings! You have the whole place to yourself: Mr. Morgan’s library, study and the librarian’s office.
How to Explore Further
Google launched Art Project in 2011 and now offers 40,000 high resolution artworks from institutions that include London’s Tate Gallery, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Tokyo National Museum and the Israel Museum. Each collection offers the same tool that lets you roam through the museums virtually.
Search for artworks
From anywhere in Google Art Projects a search window (with a little magnifying glass icon) allows you to search for a specific artwork, artist or collection within the site. You already know from wandering on the Internet that once you’ve been to one page, it just leads to another interesting place and then another.
Curate your own galleries
Some users have fun collecting their favorite artworks and curating galleries of their own. To explore this tool, click here to access User Galleries. If you don’t have a Gmail address of your own, you can still browse through the digital galleries that other users have created. It’s fun to see what people have found and how they organize their collections. If you have a Gmail address you can use it to sign in and create a new gallery. To start curating, go back into a collection and scroll over the artworks. In the upper left is a plus sign. Click on this to drop the artwork into your gallery’s unassigned works. Back in your gallery, drag the artwork over.
Play around! You can name your gallery, add captions and even share the gallery’s address with your friends and family. Or you can just wander around the world taking in some of the greatest collections every created. Your choice.