Virtual museums – a window to the world

Google Art Project Lucien Freud Girl with Roses

The Google Art Project, which I stumbled across recently, is an amazing undertaking, providing instant access to pictures from some of world’s most renowned galleries.

There are also Street View depictions of places like the National Gallery in London, the National Museum in Delhi and even The White House.

I certainly wasn’t quick to find it (The Google Art Project celebrated its first anniversary earlier this year, marking the occasion by boosting the number of artworks from 1,000 to more than 30,000). A quick browse of the collections reveals a stunning wealth of material.

There’s pin sharp clarity, as in the above detail from Lucian Freud’s Girl with Roses, though mobile use is restricted to tablets and picture selection and gallery participation is partial, though criticisms such as these seem somewhat mealy mouthed.

Aiming to put “private viewings at your fingertips”, it doesn’t replace either the experience of seeing artworks in the flesh, or that of strolling through a gallery, but it does add an intriguing new dimension to both.

Sure to be of use to students, perhaps the most pleasing aspect of Google’s Art Project is the pleasure to be had in browsing, from London to Delhi to Washington in just a few clicks.

This aspect is also evident in a less traditional collection that went online last month in the form of the late British DJ John Peel’s record collection.

His legendary eclecticism is not hard to find, with records that range from Adam Faith to Bad Brains and many, many more points in-between.

Maybe there’s little overlap between fine art and a treasure trove of vinyl, but both collections are wonderful aids if you’re “always searching for something new”, as Peel puts it in the clip below.”I’m more interested in the records I’ve not yet heard,” he goes on to explain.

Whether such virtual museums are a window to the world or just a road map for cultural exploration, the internet is a richer place with them online.

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