Google Street View offers art gallery tours

Google's Street View technology is being taken indoors for the first time - into some of the world's most famous art galleries.







Tate Britain, the National Gallery, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and the Palace of Versailles in France are among 17 museums which have collaborated with the internet giant to offer 360 degree virtual tours of their galleries.



Artworks, such as Chris Ofili's elephant-dung piece No Woman, No Cry, will be seen in "extraordinary detail"... beyond what is "possible with the naked eye".



Each museum involved in Google Art Project, launched today, is showing one of the works in its collection in super-high resolution.



The Ofili painting, selected by Tate Britain, is famous for containing tiny images of London teenager Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in 1993, within a woman's teardrops.



Each painting is captured in around seven billion pixels, making their online display around 1,000 times more detailed than an average digital camera.



Other works of art which can now be seen in great detail include Vincent Van Gogh's The Starry Night from the Museum Of Modern Art (MoMA) and The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein the Younger at the National Gallery.



Google said it took between four and eight hours to capture each painting in great detail with thousands of images which are "stitched" together.



The technology reveals hard to see details such as the tiny Latin couplet in Holbein's The Merchant Georg Gisze.



As well as the 17 images that can be seen in super-high resolution, 1000 artworks can be seen on gallery walls.



Google has used its Street View technology to enable people to explore 385 gallery rooms around the world in the same way as they can wander down streets virtually with Google Maps.



Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota said the project "gives all our audiences an unrivalled opportunity to come really close to great works of art."



He said the gallery selected the Ofili painting because it was "made in the last 15 years about an issue that's highly relevant to large number of people in this country".



Nelson Mattos, vice president of engineering at Google, called the project "a major step forward in the way people are going to interact with these major treasures".



He said that "millions of children who will probably never have the opportunity to see these great pieces of art" will now be able to do so online.



He added: "We don't believe that this technology is going to prevent people from coming to the museums. We hope that the opposite is going to happen. This is just the first step, the first incarnation of the system. The project is going to continue."



He denied that the virtual tours of the galleries provided information for potential art thieves, saying: "Like every piece of technology, there's always someone that figures out a way to misuse (it)."



He added: "It's not a lot different from the information that you get when you arrive at a gallery...I don't think it makes any difference from a security perspective."



He joked: "If you're really thinking of stealing a painting, coming to the museum is probably the best way to check the security system."



London Mayor Boris Johnson called the project a "noble initiative (that) will give millions a unique chance to experience great art collections from around the world, from the comfort of their computer".

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Ashdown Group: C# Developer

    £30000 - £36000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: C# Developer A highly s...

    Day In a Page

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...