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Tuesday
Feb012011

Google: View the World's Art Without Leaving Home

Photo Courtesy - ABC News (NEW YORK) -- Next time you want to get yourself some culture, you won't need to battle the crowds at a museum. You won't even need to leave the house.

Google Tuesday announced its Art Project, which lets users tour 17 of the world's top art museums -- virtually.

Using Google's Street View technology, art lovers can digitally roam the halls of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Tate Britain of London, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and many other of the art world's great art houses.

Panoramic views let users explore the museums without buying a plane ticket to Europe or the United States, and high-resolution images of more than 1,000 masterpieces make it possible to zoom in to study the details.

"The last 20 years have transformed and democratized the world of art -- with better access to museums in many countries and a proliferation of public artworks. We're delighted to have been able to collaborate with leading art museums around the world to create this state-of-the-art technology," said Nelson Mattos, Google's vice president of engineering, in a statement. "We hope it will inspire ever more people, wherever they live, to access and explore art -- in new and amazing levels of detail."

The project also lets its virtual visitors curate their own online collections of art. With the "create an artwork collection feature," visitors can save their favorite pieces of art, add their own comments and share the collections with family and friends.

At the moment, the Louvre in Paris is not listed among the partners, so there's no studying the Mona Lisa's famous smile. But other notable works of art include Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" and Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night." Google Art Project includes 486 artists from around the world.

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