Google brings Street View to Reina Sofia with Art Project

Google has launched Google Art Project, which allows users to virtually walk through museums and view artwork from around the world – in other words, Street View for art.

It took 18 months for Google to photograph the paintings and sculptures in 17 art museums, with a total of 486 artists from all over the world represented in the collections. Undoubtedly more will be added over time. Concerns have been raised in Austria over privacy, with Egon Schiele requesting his works in Österreichische Galerie Belvedere be removed. So far no Picassos have been stolen by a rogue engineer.

The technology used for the 360 degree virtual walkthrough of the museums is based on the same software for Street View and the entire project was started by some art enthusiasts at Google in their 20 percent personal projects work time.

Paintings can be viewed by clicking on them on the wall as you pass by or by selecting them from a drop-down list. The image loaded comes from a much larger and more accurate copy than the museum walkthrough, with the size up to 7 billion pixels, allowing very detailed zooming in and out.

An information tab is available on the right, which contains viewing notes, artwork history, a biography of the artist and other works by the artist

Users can also create a personalised collection of artwork they like and want to revisit later, effectively acting as a “my favourites” feature.

TechEye had a stroll through the National Gallery, admiring the artwork of Paolo Morando, Jacopo Bassano and Joachim Beuckelaer, among others. Initial fears that the artwork would be distorted like the odd image on Street View were unfounded and we found the zoom and information tab features to be extremely useful.