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Gallery: Take an exciting tour of Google's art collection

Google's Art Project puts its Street View technology to good use in capturing more than 1,000 works of art from 17 different museums. Best of all you can play with them.
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1 of 18 Andy Smith/ZDNet

I could never be accused of being a connoseur of art but Google's new site called the Art Project certainly caught my interest. The Art Project puts Google's Street View technology to good use in capturing more than 1,000 works of art from more than 400 artists - featured in 17 of the top museums in the world. The tools that allow you to explore the art and the museums in great detail are what makes the site pretty amazing.

Here, is an example of the zoom tool. Jan van Huysum's (1701-1749) "Still Life with Flowers and Fruit" can be found at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. If you zoom in as soon as the page loads, you'll be in for this surprise - an infested painting. The fly, the ant, and even the cherub/baby may not be noticable at the distance you see a painting from a gallery but the Google zoom tool shows the amazing detail. Did they pose or maybe just flew in while the painting was being photographed? More on the zoom later.

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At the Palace of Versailles, you can see the Sun King, Louis XIV, having a bad wig day along with a five o'clock shadow. This wax on textile bust by Antoine Benoist is from about 1705 when the king was 67. It even shows scars from small pox.

On the bottom right corner is the full painting along with a zoom tool.

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The zoom shows more details of Louis XIV's wig and face. And actually you can get much closer. There's even a tiny hair on his cheek.

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When entering Palace of Versailles or any of the museums in Google's Art Project, you are placed in a room where you can examine any of the artwork by using the directional tool on the top left.
 

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The floor plan allows you to hop from one room to another to explore what's inside.

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The tool allows you to even examine the ceilings. Here's a surprise at Versailles.

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The Metropolitan Museum of New York houses much more than paintings. Here, you can visit one of the three rooms that are dedicated to early Egyptian Art. Although this feature would be really cool if it was 3D. This is the Mastaba Tomb of Perneb from around 2381-2323 B.C.

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While most of the artwork is paintings, statues like "Jupiter" by an unknown artist in the first century can be seen from the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. Note the image in the lower right that shows the zoom in perspective of the entire work of art.

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Modern art is still a puzzle on Google's Art Project. Here is "The Large Square" by Stanislav Kolibal from 1972. It resides in the Museum Kampa in the Czech Republic.

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The State Tretyakov Museum in Moscow is the home for "Portrait of Catherine II, Empress of Russia in the Park by Vladimir Borovikovskiy in 1795. The Empress is taking her dog for a walk. Another advantage of art online is that you can make your adjustments such as adding a little light.

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Another nice feature of the Google Art Project is the ability to create your own gallery by setting up a folder and clicking to add the work of art. You can have your own da Vinci. Here is Annunciation from the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.

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Vincent Van Gogh's "The Starry Night" hangs in MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It's most notable for the details that can be seen in a closeup (next page).

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In this close-up of Van Gogh's "The Starry Night" you can see brush strokes and cracks in the canvas.

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Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais around 1851 from the Tate Britian in London shows the drowning lead character of Shakespeare's play. The flowers are significant: "the poppy means death, daisies innocence and pansies love in vain." Elizabeth Siddal posed for Ophelia in a bath of water kept warm by lamps underneath.

So how did we know this? Next page.

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The Google Art Project gives detailed information about each piece on the right hand side of each screen.

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How about viewing a Renior, "Mother and Children (La Prominade)" at the Frick Collection in New York.

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Or a Rembrandt, Night Watch painted in 1642 from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

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Or several more Van Goghs from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. "Self-portrait" painted in 1887.

Can't wait for the next collection of art to go on tour.

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