Google has announced the launch of its new Art Project, allowing people to take a Street View-style tour of 17 international art museums online.
The 18 month project used specially designed trolleys to take 360 degree images of selected galleries at 7-14 billion pixels in depth, which allows visitors to zoom in to see the pictures in extraordinary detail. Each museum also allowed for the image of one artwork to be taken at gigapixel resolution.
Visitors to googleartproject.com can take a virtual walk through the galleries to view more than 1,000 artworks from 486 artists featured in some of the world's most famous art museums, including the Tate Britain, The National Gallery, Museo Reina Sofia and the Van Gogh Museum.
The Telegraph reports Dr Nicholas Penny, Director of the National Gallery, as saying: " Viewers will see details and explore the painting in a way that hasn't been possible before."
The initiative was created as part of Google's "20 per cent project", in which employees can devote a fifth of their time to work they simply find interesting, head of the Art Project at Google Amit Sood said.
"Googlers passionate about making art more accessible online came together with our museum partners around the world and we have created what we hope will be a fascinating resource for art-lovers, students and casual museum goers alike", he said.
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