Google has recently expanded and improved their already amazing Google Art Project, in which they use their Google Maps “Street View” tech to offer virtual tours of museum spaces, and, more importantly, offer beautiful, zoomable high resolution images of great works of art from world class museums.
Their recent expansion adds 150 museums and galleries to their list of participating institutions, including the National Gallery in London.
When I first reported about the Google Art Project in early 2011, they had roughly 1000 images available on the site, there are now over 30,000 (though not all in highest resolution).
They have also dramatically improved the interface, which was the weak point of the original implementation and sorely in need of revision.
Instead of dealing with that horrible little scrolling list (that never displayed right in browsers other than Chrome), you can now view actual list pages and look up Collections from museums and galleries, or browse by Artists or Artworks.
If you take the trouble to create a free account (you can probably sign in with a current Google account), you can keep personal galleries of favorites, not just bookmarked, but saved with a chosen zoom level and focus selection.
If you view the Details page for a given work there are often videos, audio commentary, maps and a range of text information about the work and the artist.
The interface can still be a bit slow and demanding of your computer and browser (and probably still works best in Chrome), but you may just need to be patient.
The Google Art Project was already an amazing resource and is now even better and more extensive by an order of magnitude.
It also gets my highest Major Timesink Warning.
(Images above: In the Conservatory, Edouard Manet from collection of Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)
[Via The Guardian]