Google recently launched a project where you can visit the world’s greatest museums – right from your computer. Does this replace a museum visit or create more interest in planning a visit?
Let’s face it. The internet has made so many things possible that were mere science fiction just a few years ago.
We can talk to each other live and “in person” with video cameras and software like Skype. We can access our work or home computers from anywhere. We have instant access to more information than could ever be housed in a single library.
But does this virtual world really replace the real one?
For many, the answer is no. But visiting a museum virtually does have many advantages.
Google’s Art Project is a wonderful resource. You can now virtually visit art museums you might never have a chance to see around the world. The list includes:
The Museum of Modern Art (NYC)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC)
The Frick Collection (NYC)
Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian (Washington, DC)
National Gallery (London)
Tate Britain (London)
Palace of Versailles (Versailles)
Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam)
Uffizi Gallery (Florence)
The State Tretkayov Gallery (Moscow)
The State Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg)
Museum Kampa (Prague)
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (Madrid)
Museo Reina Sofia (Madrid)
Alte Nationalgalerie (Berlin)
You can do a virtual “walk through” of selected galleries or focus in on a single painting or sculpture. An amazing zoom tool allows you to closely examine each piece, much closer than any museum guard would ever let you get!
A colleague pointed out that when baseball was first televised, people were afraid that no one would come to a stadium to see a live game. Instead, more people became interested in baseball, increasing the fan base. Those who could never travel to a stadium got to see what one looked like. And surely a televised game inspired many to check out a live game for themselves.
Nothing beats seeing a live baseball game, not even TV. The same is true with museums.
Lingering in front of a favorite painting or historical artifact – merely being in the presence of it – is awe-inspiring. A virtual tour just can’t replace that feeling.
But, for those of us who will likely never travel to Moscow or Prague, we can get up close and personal with works of art in a brand new way!
Who knows? Google’s Art Project might even inspire people to visit the museums in their own backyards.