Google brings African rock art, Brazilian graffiti to the world

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Google is expanding its Art Project in a big way. In fact, it wants to take everything from South African rock art to Brazilian graffiti and make it available to art lovers around the world “with a few simple clicks of a finger”.

The internet giant claims that people will be able discover paintings, sculpture, street art and photographs from 151 museums in 40 countries.

The project now includes some 30 000 high-resolution pictures, with Street View images for 46 museums.

That’s a pretty big jump from the 1 000 pictures from 17 museums in nine countries that people could see when Google launched the Art Project in 2011. It’s also a lot more diverse these days, given that the original Art Project consisted mainly of paintings from Western masters.

Since then, it says, “curators, artists and viewers from all over the globe have offered exciting ideas about how to enhance the experience of collecting, sharing and discovering art”.

There are also a number of new features in the expanded Art Project including:

  • New tools, called Explore and Discover, which allow you to find artworks by period, artist or type of artwork, displaying works from different museums around the world.

  • Google+ and Hangouts are integrated on the site, enabling you to create even more engaging personal galleries.
  • Street View images are now displayed in finer quality. A specially designed Street View “trolley” took 360-degree images of the interior of selected galleries which were then stitched together, enabling smooth navigation of more than 385 rooms within the museums. You can also explore the gallery interiors directly from within Street View in Google Maps.
  • Google now has 46 artworks available with its “gigapixel” photo capturing technology, photographed in extraordinary detail using super high-resolution so you can study details of the brushwork and patina that would be impossible to see with the naked eye.
  • An enhanced My Gallery feature lets you select any of the 30,000 artworks—along with your favourite details—to build your own personalized gallery. You can add comments to each painting and share the whole collection with whoever you feel like.

Among the new galleries and institutes included in the expanded Art Project are the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi, the White House, and the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar.

Google claims that Art Project is part of its attempts to bring culture online and make it accessible to “the widest possible audience”.

Its previous efforts include digitising the Nelson Mandela archives, the Dead Sea Scrolls and creating 3D models of 18th century French cities.

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