Art Gallery of Ontario joins Google Art Project

The Toronto-based Art Gallery of Ontario is the first Canadian museum to join the Google Art Project, which allows access to its collections over the internet.

1st Canadian gallery to join worldwide project to put art online

The Toronto-based Art Gallery of Ontario is the first Canadian museum to join the Google Art Project, which allows access to its collections over the internet.

Last year, Google partnered with 17 of the world’s most acclaimed art museums, including the Tate in London and the Palace of Versailles, to launch the Google Art Project.


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On Tuesday, it announced another 100 museums in 35 countries would be joining the project at a launch event in Paris. The AGO is the only Canadian participant.

So far, 58 pieces of work from its collection have been placed online, with information about the artists. Among the works shown are:

  • Daedalus and Icarus by Anthony von Dyck.
  • The West Wind by Tom Thomson.
  • Indian Church by Emily Carr.

"We worked with their project team to determine what works from the collection we wanted to present online and then went through an internal process to come up with a representative sample of our collection," said Virginia Vuleta, deputy director of new media services for the AGO.

Vuleta said the AGO was approached by Google to join the project and "jumped at the chance."

She said the AGO is keen to get many more images up online and will look at audience reaction on social media to the collection to determine what kind of works go up in the online gallery.

Google uses the same high-resolution, "gigapixel" photo technology it employed for its Street View to record inside some of the museums. This allows 360-degree tours of each room of the museum, but only a handful of the institutions on the Google Art Project will get this treatment. The AGO is not currently one of them.

Web surfers can enter the museums and see famed works in their collections. There is also a chance to zoom in on individual works to see the detail of the brush strokes or the carving. Information about the art, the artist, and his or her place in history is a click away.

Since it launched in February 2011, the Google Art Project has had 20 million visitors.

In the case of the AGO, being part of the Google Art Project eventually will mean access to a renowned collection of Canadian art, including works by Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven, David Milne, Frances Loring, and 20th century artists such as Betty Goodwin, Gershon Iskowitz and Michael Snow.

The AGO also houses an extensive collection of contemporary Inuit art and the Henry Moore sculpture centre, as well as European, African and Oceanic art.

"It is our mandate to bring art and people together so it's very much our ambition to get our collection front and centre to a global population, global eyes," Vuleta said. "The primary objective is to bring people into the AGO physical location. Google themselves will tell you the Art Project is no substitute for the real thing."