Most people in the arts actually visit museums, but many others experience images—even museum paintings that art history students initially learned from textbooks—almost exclusively through the Internet. Today, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Nasher Sculpture Center announced that together they are adding more than a combined 1,700 high-resolution works of art to the Google Art Project.
The Google Art Project is an online platform, originally launched in 2011, of high-resolution images of artworks from its partner museums (It started with 17 museums including the Tate, the Met, and the Uffizi; now there are images of 57,000 objects.). Its development grew out of Google’s “20-percent time” policy, by which employees are encouraged to spend 20% of their time working on an innovative project of interest. Enough Google employees were into it that, eventually, curators and museums were brought on board. Visitors to the Google Art Project can now browse works by the artist’s name, the artwork, type of art, the museum, the country, collections, and the time period. The hi-res images can withstand super microscopic viewings and users can become virtual curators, creating and sharing their own “collections.” Some works have audio/visual content and educational components for teachers and students. (Google+ is a plus for the fancier features.)