Magnified

Uffizi featured in Google Art Project

Editorial Staff
February 10, 2011

Last June, Google brought you 3-D Florence. Now, 17 of the most prominent museums in the world, including the Uffizi, Tate Modern, MoMA and the Met are participating in the Google Art Project (www.googleartproject.com), an initiative announced by the web giant from London on February 1. The project will bring virtual viewers closer than ever before to the participating museums' international artistic heritage.

 

This unprecedented collaboration among some of the world's most acclaimed museums puts more than 1,000 artworks online in extraordinary detail. The project used Google's Street View technology (picture young Californians on bikes outfitted with high-tech camera equipment careening through each hall of the Uffizi gallery), to capture 3-D images of museum spaces. Thus, virtual visitors can now literally ‘walk' through the museums' halls.

 

Each museum selected works for Google to digitize for ‘exhibit' in high-resolution zoom. At an average of seven billion pixels per image, which is 1,000 times greater than the average digital photograph, the technology enables viewers, using toggles similar to those in Google Maps, to examine the work in such detail that subtleties-the shadows cast by Van Gogh's brushstrokes, the hairline cracks in the paint between the blonde locks of Botticelli's Venus, and even individual canvas threads-are clearly visible.

 

The Uffizi, the only Italian museum to participate in the project, chose some 70 works for Artwork View, including paintings by Giotto, da Vinci, Titian, Botticelli, Dürer, Bronzino and Caravaggio.

 

Count the flowers on the Primavera's garland, examine the kink in the Duke of Urbino's nose, peer into the inside of Medusa's mouth: the possibilities are endless.

 

Other features invite users to virtually navigate interactive museum floor plans (every room of the Uffizi is ‘open,' aside from the Tribune, currently closed for renovation), read about each work, become a ‘fantasy curator' by selecting and saving a collection of personal favorites, obtain museum information and history, and browse thumbnails of the entire set of 1,000 works in Artwork View.

 

Whether or not the project satisfactorily recreates the museum experience is debatable, but the project has generated significant buzz as Google's latest addition to its maps, books, images, news, shopping, mail and other tools.

 

A few of the world's most notable museums, such as the Louvre and Musée d'Orsay, did not participate. However, if the project is successful, it could result in new, prominent partnerships between Google and institutions not yet on the list.

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