Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Armchair Travel: Art Museum Edition

Posted By on Wed, Feb 2, 2011 at 3:11 PM

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Within the span of just a few minutes, I visited the National Museum in London, roamed the halls of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, strolled through the galleries of the Palace of Versailles and explored the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Not bad considering I never left my desk nor did I drop a dime to do it.

Thanks to the folks at Google (the same people who provided a streetview tour of the ruins of Pompeii) armchair travelers and art lovers alike can check out some of the world's most renowned museums. The newly launched Art Project allows users to either explore portions of 17 different museums or get up-close views of their art collections.

The tours are similar to Google's streetview tool, allowing anyone with a mouse to navigate his or her way around the photographed section of the museum. Click on the "Floor Plan" link to see just where you can explore or to jump to individual rooms. The art-viewing feature works like a slideshow but allows viewers to zoom in to any of the works to the point that individual brush strokes are visible—hell, that's closer than you could get if you were actually there.

Better yet, your can toggle nearly seamlessly between the two features. Want a better look at that painting on the wall? Just click on the plus sign that appears as you scroll over it and it will take you to the closer view.

The Art View tool even allows anyone who signs up for an account to build a virtual art collection filled with some of the greatest masterpieces ever created, and you don't have to deal with that inconvenient prison time you would get if you were to actually try to take one of the national treasures.

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