This morning, in a room at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, I joined a group of museum colleagues (representing 151 institutions, from 40 countries!) and journalists for the launch of the next iteration of the Google Art Project. For those of us who worked on the project, this was our first look at the results of an all-hands-on-deck effort to prepare images and gather contextual information about the works in our respective collections. Each participating museum’s logo flashed on the screen as the revved up to the big reveal. Sorry for the blurry photo, but I got a little excited at this moment!
Google has made an incredible 30,000 + high-res images available in this wave of the project. At the IMA, we selected over 200 works from our collection to feature – a number that will continue to grow as we add more to the site. For us, this opportunity came at a moment when we were beginning to re-assess the content that’s available on the collection pages of our own website, coinciding perfectly with a major effort to expand this information and re-think the layout of these pages (more to come on this later!).
Art Project organizer Amit Snood revealed a number of features throughout the site demo, including search options that allow users to browse by artist’s name, artwork, type of art, museum, country, collections and the time period. To highlight the cross-collection capabilities, Amit walked us through a search he did for Van Gogh’s The Bedroom, which revealed not only the three versions on view at the Art Institute of Chicago, Van Gogh Museum and Musée d’Orsay, but also pulled in an artist he was previously unfamiliar with named Kyung Min Nam, who was inspired by Van Gogh’s work.
Users have the capability to create their own collections by saving their favorite works into galleries, adding comments, and sharing with friends. Amit also featured the expanded street view and gigapixel options with a view of the galleries below us at the Musée d’Orsay:
Of course, as soon as the demo was over we all made a beeline to the computers in the hallway to check it out, necks craning over shoulders to scope out our neighbor’s museum and our own.
I’m looking forward to delving into the site further to look at the IMA’s collection in context with other works of art across the globe. Looking around the room this morning, Google’s goal of developing connections and providing access seems to be off to a pretty good start. Take a look and see what you think.