The World's Greatest Art - in Gigapixels

Article excerpt

Art is something that even students and the youth can truly enjoy. This was the dilemma that a small group of Googlers, like Amit Sood, set out to solve.

"We started a 20 percent project, the time Googlers are allowed to pursue their own individual interests," says Sood, the head of Google Art Project. "Without anyone instructing us from above, we explored how Google technology could be used to make the world's greatest art accessible to everyone."

Launched in 2011 with 1,000 online images and in partnership with 17 museums, the Google Art Project ( used Google technologies like Picasa and App engine to build the high-resolution digital collection. All anyone needed to access canonical works of art like Vincent Van Gogh's 'Starry Night' was an Internet connection.

What more, using Street View - the technology that allows people to 'wander' through city streets on Google Maps - the team created virtual tours of some of the world's most acclaimed museums.

Since that first launch, the project has grown. Today, the Google Art Project is an online collection of over 30,000 images from 151 cultural institutions in 40 countries, including the Philippines, where the Ayala museum contributed high resolution images of its popular dioramas depicting key moments in Filipino history, including "The Battle of Mactan" and the "Construction of UST."

"Our initial success encouraged us to go far beyond the initial 20 percent project," shares Sood. First, the team moved the Google Art Project under the auspices of the Google Cultural Institute, a Google organization that "brings together engineers working on cultural projects all over the world, and aspires to use technology to eliminate existing barriers and promote culture".


The second part of this new phase was a global expansion of the project. …