Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Google Art Project Thoughts

I am surprised to find that I have not written about the Google Art Project. I thought that I had. I remember when Bonnie introduced me to the website, which had images from about a dozen art museum from several countries, I thought everyone should know about the project. Google had loaded very high quality images that could be inspected minutely. I was impressed. I could see art in Paris, London, or Tokyo without leaving home.

I am still impressed. The images are still beautiful, and navigation of the website has improved. There are now 261 collections, over 9,500 artists, and over 45,000 images with detailed descriptions, including artist, date, media, size, original name, provenance, and notes on viewing. Paintings, sculpture, tapestries, mosaics, jewelry, etc. are included. You may browse a collection, view representative work by an artist, or search by keywords.

The Google Art Project lets you share images through your social media and put together your own virtual galleries. Users galleries may be an art lovers favorite pieces or guides developed by museums to help visitors. Some are thematic presentations, such as "Mathematics and Art" and "Boats and historical events."

Not everything with the Google Art Project is right, however. I can not imagine why we are expected to browse for artists by their first names. I remember that Picasso's first name is Pablo and that Pollack's first name is Jackson. Some are known by first names, such as Titian or Rembrandt. What are the first names of Rubens or Renoir? What about Van Dyke? It's not Dick. Actually, there are so many artists that I do not even recommend browsing. Use the search box instead.

Not every museum is participating. The Louvre and the Prado museums are among the missing.

The level of participation for collections varies, and even in the best cases is selective. Having just gotten home from a trip to New York, I have found that the Google Art Project just doesn't have many of my favorites from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Frick Collection, and the Museum of Modern Art. Looking at the collection for the Morgan Library, I almost wonder if I went to the right place. I recognize very little from its project images. Of course, the Morgan is always changing much of what is on exhibit.

The Google Art Project does not substitute for a trip to the museum, but it may certainly make you want to go.


Citizen Reader said...

This might be enough to make me forgive them for yanking Google Reader. Probably not, but maybe.

ricklibrarian said...

I don't look at Google Art Project often because once I do it is hard to stop.