Houston—Tuesday, April 3, 2012—Google today announced a partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, to bring Google's pioneering Art Project to Houston.
The partnership is part of a major global expansion of the project, which now counts 151 partners in 40 countries. In the United States alone, 29 partners in 16 cities are participating, ranging from excellent regional museums to top notch university galleries. Thanks to Google, art lovers are able—with a few simple clicks of their fingers—to discover not just paintings, but also sculpture, street art and photographs. Creations from a wide variety of cultures and civilizations are represented, including Brazilian street graffiti, Islamic decorative arts and ancient African rock art. All told, more than 30,000 high-resolution objects are available, up from the original 1,000 in only nine museums. Street View images now cover 46 Museums (not yet including the MFAH), with more on the way.
A wide range of institutions, from large to small and traditional to less traditional settings for great art, are represented in the expanded Art Project. Google Art users can explore the collection of the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar and continue the journey in India, exploring the Santiniketan Triptych in the halls of the National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi.
“Google is committed to bringing all types of culture online and making it accessible,” said Nelson Mattos, VP Engineering, Google. “The Art Project demonstrates how the Internet helps spread knowledge.”
“The new expanded Art Project demonstrates our commitment to all types of art and cultures and civilizations all across the globe,” said Amit Sood, Head of Art Project, Google. “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.”
“This is the first time that works of art from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, are available for the public to view online, outside of our own website, mfah.org, and now it will be possible to zoom in to show detail,” said MFAH director Gary Tinterow. “Google Art Project users can explore a showcase of 183 works from our permanent collection of over 64,000, including iconic pieces by major masters from Rogier van der Weyden, to Rembrandt and Van Gogh. We hope the information on the site will be useful and that visitors will be inspired to come see the actual works.”
The Art Project epitomizes Google’s commitment to bringing culture online and making it accessible the widest possible audience. Under the auspices of the 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.
Find out even more about Art Project on YouTube.
Significant technical improvements have been undertaken. Users may browse the content by the artist’s name, the artwork, the type of art, the museum, the country, collections and the time period. Google+ and video hangouts are integrated on the site, allowing viewers to create even more engaging personal galleries. Street View images are now displayed in finer quality than the original version.
Create Your Own Collection
The "Create an Artwork Collection" feature allows users to save specific views of any of artworks and build their own personalized collection. Comments can be added to each painting and the whole collection can then be shared with friends and family. It’s an ideal tool for students or groups to work on collaborative projects or collections.
Discover, Search and Explore
With such a large collection it was important to provide the tools that allow users to explore across partners using the discover tool, and then further explore artworks by artist across all collections. A custom search-integration makes it easier than ever to browse through collections and instantly find what you are looking for.
With this launch, Google finally brought the Art Project to the tablet. The experience of viewing art on a tablet and browsing through rich content truly comes to life. Currently Google supports the Android platform and is hoping to have the iPad version ready post-launch.
Super High-Resolution Feature Artworks
Museums provided images for a selection totaling more than 30,000 works of art. The resolution of these images, combined with a custom-built zoom viewer, allows art lovers to discover minute aspects of paintings they may 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.
Super high-resolution feature artworks: around 46 partners selected one artwork to be photographed in extraordinary detail using super high resolution or ‘gigapixel’ photo capturing technology. Each such image contains around 7 billion pixels, enabling the viewer to study details of the brushwork and patina beyond that possible with the naked eye. Hard to see details suddenly become clear, such as the tiny figures toiling on the doomed construction of Bruegel’s Tower of Babel, the mysterious and intricate carved symbols of the Pedra del Sol in Mexico, or the painstakingly detailed wonder of Seurat’s Pointillist masterpiece A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.
Founded in 1900, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is among the ten largest art museums in the United States. Located in the heart of Houston’s Museum District, the MFAH comprises two gallery buildings, a sculpture garden, library, theater and two art schools, with two house museums, for American and European decorative arts, nearby. The encyclopedic collection of the MFAH numbers some 64,000 works and embraces the art of antiquity to the present.
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