Visit the Uffizi in your pajamas

… or the Tate Modern on your lunch break, for that matter. Art Project by Google, which launched today, allows you to explore street-view-like gallery photos and high-resolution images of artwork at 17 different museums.

One of my favorite things about seeing art in museums is seeing the brushstrokes, the cracks, the reality of the piece. I like to stand as close as the guards allow and imagine being at the easel with the artist. The zoom feature on Art Project allows you to get even closer, and see tiny features and clumps of paint that you may not be able to see live. Clicking the “i” symbol in the upper right-hand corner takes you to information about the work and the artist, the type of information I often wish I had while in a museum.

Right now I’m using Art Project to explore Joachim Beuckelaer’s “Four Elements” series at the National Gallery in London. Each piece has extremely detailed scenes of people and abundance, with a biblical story illustrated in the background. The information panel provides some context to each piece and points out significant details I might otherwise overlook, and the zoom feature allows me to zoom in on the details.

I think Art Project would be especially useful for preparing to visit a museum and gaining background knowledge for the trip. I’ll probably use it for that purpose with a couple of the museums on the list. With all that Art Project offers, I’d still want to visit a museum in person, given the opportunity. But in the meantime, I like that I can explore the Hermitage over breakfast.

*public domain image from Wikipedia Images

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