The idea of making art exhibits available to view on the internet is not new, but the Google Art Project has taken the concept to a new level, allowing users to access collections from museums around the world from a single portal.
The project can be accessed through Android phones, tablets and iPad.
Three features make the project unique.
First, thanks to the special camera used for Google Street View, parts of the museums have been photographed in panorama. So rather than looking at separate slides, users can see how exhibits look in the museum, giving the viewer a clearer idea of the curator’s intentions.
Second, some images have been photographed at an ultra-high resolution of seven billion pixels.
Third, users can enter the Google Art Project via their Google accounts, create their own personal collections and share their images via social networking sites.
The Google Art Project is not the only way Russian museums are taking an active role in the technical revolution. In February, the Hermitage launched its own free Hermitage Museum iPhone app, including a version in English, which allows users to take excursions, buy tickets online and get the latest news from the Hermitage.
Russia was one of the first countries to join the project, and five museums are exhibiting part of their collections – the Tretyakov Gallery, the Hermitage Museum, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, the Russian Museum and the Nicholas Roerich Museum – along with 150 others worldwide.
The State Tretyakov Gallery possesses a unique collection of Russian fine art. The Moscow gallery, which was founded by the merchant Pavel Tretyakov in 1856, today contains more than 160,000 works by Russian artists covering 1,000 years of the country’s history – from the earliest icon paintings to contemporary works.
The impressive collection of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg includes more than three million works of art, including paintings, graphic works, sculptures, handicrafts, archaeological and numismatic finds and other artefacts of world culture.
The museum was founded by Catherine the Great and is located in the Winter Palace, once an official residence of the Russian monarchs. The regular exhibition is not limited to the main palace building; it is spread throughout five other buildings in the historic city centre.
The Russian Museum is a unique depository of artistic treasures, a famous restoration centre and an authoritative institute of academic research that contains 400,000 exhibits. It was also the first state museum of Russian fine arts in the country. It was established in 1895 by Emperor Nicholas II and is in the Mikhailovsky Palace in St Petersburg.
The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts is housed in a museum complex in central Moscow. The complex includes the main building, building of 19th and 20th century European and American art, and the private collection. The museum was founded in 1893 by Ivan Tsvetaev, father of the poet Marina Tsvetaeva.
The museum contains many copies of ancient cultural edifices, Egyptian artefacts, antique sculptures and even architectural monuments. It also has a large collection of impressionist and post-impressionist works, including paintings by Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso.
The Nicholas Roerich Museum is in the heart of Moscow, in the ancient Lopoukhin estate. The museum features a unique collection of Himalayan sketches painted by Nicholas Roerich.
Visitors can also find various relics; gifts from Roerich’s spiritual teacher; manuscript and art rarities; books and monographs from the Roerich Memorial Library; plus personal belongings and objects that accompanied the artist and philosopher in his long wanderings, including photo documents and a collection of ancient bronzes from the Indian valley of Kulu.
The Nicholas Roerich Museum is the only one in the country that organises travelling exhibitions in the most remote corners of Russia, not confining itself to major cities and cultural centres. This gives millions of Russian people an opportunity to come into contact with the Roerich canvases.
– Discover more at www.googleartproject.com
By Alexandra Guzeva, Russia Now