Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Visual, not Sensual

Virtual tours of the world's great museums with clickable enlargements is nothing new, but Google has now partnered with 17 of the world's finest art museums to make it "more seamless and elegant than ever before."

The company's cameras dutifully recorded 360 degree tours of the Smithsonian, London's National Gallery, the Met, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Uffizi, and other pivotal art museums. Over a thousand high-resolution paintings allow viewers to zoom in to see the brush strokes and minute details of a painting.

Indeed, the virtual tours are igniting interest in classic paintings.

Glenn Lowry, the director at MoMA said, '“The online engagement is absolutely driving people to the museum." The wild proliferation of images on the Web has led to ultra-sophisticated viewers who are definitely aware of the difference between the virtual and the real and are more eager than ever to seek out reality. He cites the near doubling of MoMA attendance over the last decade, and the 40 percent of visitors who launched their visit at MoMA’s own website.'

See the interesting video of Google's Art Project here.

For anyone who enjoys art museums, I can't imagine the virtual tour surpassing the physical, sensory experience of actually being there.