Digital technologies are rapidly changing the world and have already challenged the role and function of the brick and mortar museums. Now, here Google rolled out a massive new tool called “Art Project, pill ” which gives you access to more than 1, sales 000 works of art appearing in 17 great museums across the world. Using Google’s Street View technology, you can now tour collections at the MoMA and Met in New York City, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the National Gallery in London – just to name a few museums now virtually open to you.

In addition, each institution has nominated a single piece as a “Gigapixel Artwork”, which Google has photographed using super high-resolution photo capturing technology.  The latest technology allows us the closest possible view at ultra-high 7,000,000,000-pixel resolution, which enables viewers to see stroke detail you often can’t see with the naked eye. Expanding the info panel allows you to read more about an artwork, find more works by that artist and watch related YouTube videos.

At first glance,  Art Project is a really awe inspiring, succeeding to be stimulating and engaging. It offers a new form of collaboration that allows us to take great art works beyond their walled homes to create a global art collection. The participating museum move from being “keepers” to “sharers” of art, thusly giving us a glimpse of what lies ahead for presenting art to the public.

Naysayers are already pointing out that the number of participating museums is minimal, and that some top-notch institutions were not included. Plus, because each museum was given no curatorial direction, viewers are only exposed to scatter shots of select works. In other words, someone else is deciding what images are worthy of study on your behalf – an impulse that runs counter to the democratic motivation of the project in the first place.

Google’s Art Project is a wonderful beginning, enabling art lovers to view famous museums without ever boarding a plane. It also allows you to really see the showcased works in fine detail. But at this stage, this project could be classified as more promotional tool for the internet giant than the museums themselves. It does a good job of placing art within the context of their museum settings, but it can’t capture the essence of strolling a museum hall, only to turn the corner and discover something marvelous and surprising. And since you are virtual touring museums alone, it can get a bit lonely. But more harm has been done by underestimating innovation than by embracing it.

— Scot C Hart