Google's Street View takes in art around the world

Google is opening the doors of some of the world's most famous museums to armchair web surfers with the Google Art Project.

Google is opening the doors of some of the world's most famous museums to armchair web surfers.

Using its Street View cameras, the internet giant has entered 17 museums ranging from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid with the Google Art Project.

The project, launched Monday at London's Tate Gallery, allows web surfers to enter each of these museums and see their most famous paintings.

Google's Art Project website is seen on a laptop computer during its launch at the Tate Britain gallery in London on Monday. ((Stefan Wermuth/Reuters))
There is even a chance to zoom in on the brush strokes of works such as Botticelli's Birth of Venus and or Van Gogh's The Starry Night. 

The use of super high resolution "gigapixel" photo technology — more than 1,000 times as powerful as the average digital camera — gives an extremely detailed look at selected works.

Google collaborated with the museums to create the project, which involves a specially designed Street View "trolley" to take 360-degree images of the interiors. There are 17 museums involved in the project initially:

  • Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin.
  • Freer Gallery of Art,
  • Smithsonian, Washington D.C.
  • The Frick Collection, New York.
  • Gemäldegalerie, Berlin.
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
  • The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
  • Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid.
  • Museo Thyssen - Bornemisza, Madrid.
  • Museum Kampa, Prague, Czech Republic.
  • National Gallery, London.
  • Palace of Versailles, France.
  • Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
  • The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
  • State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.
  • Tate Britain, London.
  • Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
  • Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

Google claims the art project allows online visitors into 385 rooms packed with more than 1,000 works of art and artifacts.

The museums chose the number of galleries and artwork they wanted displayed; some images are deliberately blurred to protect copyright, Google said. Museums also display information about each work.

Google vice-president of engineering Nelson Mattos said he hopes the project will make art more accessible to everyone around the world.