Old Master Paintings, Alte Nationalgalerie
1 February 2011
Gemäldegalerie and Alte Nationalgalerie as only German museums in Google's Art Project, now online
Amit Sood, Head of Art Project, at the press conference in London
© National Museums in Berlin; photo: Simon Rein
As of today, the Art Project, www.googleartproject.com, is online, a collaboration between the National Museums in Berlin together with some 15 other world-famous museums and Google. The Art Project means that the Gemäldegalerie and Alte Nationalgalerie and other important art museums in the world can be explored online for the first time in a completely new way, with over 1000 masterpieces by around 500 artists now accessible.
The National Museums in Berlin have been hard at work with Google over the last 18 months in creating the Art Project. The results of this collaboration are extraordinarily high-resolution images of Hans Holbein the Younger's The Merchant Georg Gisze (1532) and Edouard Manet's In the Conservatory (1879), as well as the pooling together of a total of 170 or so further masterpieces from the Gemäldegalerie and Alte Nationalgalerie with exhibits from the other museums involved in the project. In addition, virtual 360° tours through both the Berlin museums are now possible online. This means that we can now provide users from around the globe with comprehensive information on the history and artists behind key works featured in the two museums.
The Art Project's functions
Virtual tours around the museum: Using a specially designed camera on wheels, 360° images of the various museum rooms were taken, using the same technology as in Street View. Users can move virtually around the museum's galleries, selecting works of art that interest them and finding out more on the art at the touch of a mouse click. Further information in the form of images, text, audio files and videos is available on the individual artworks, as well as on the artists who created them and the collections.
Gigapixel images: Each of the 17 museums involved selected an artwork that was then photographed in extraordinary detail using high-resolution photo technology. Each one of these images consists of approximately 14 billion pixels, which means the viewer can study the works so closely that he or she can even see the smallest details, not usually recognizable by the naked eye, such as individual brush strokes and the picture's patina. Tiny details, such as the Latin lines of verse in Holbein's The Merchant Georg Gisze, suddenly become visible.
Personal collections: The Create an Artwork Collection function allows users to build their own personal collection using images from the various museums. In addition, selected details of individuals works can be saved, have comments added to them and the whole collection can then be shared with friends and family. This should make the project attractive for students and other users who wish to exchange ideas on particular groups of works.
Opinions on the Art Project
Michael Eissenhauer, Director General of the National Museums in Berlin: 'We are currently working hard on the digitization of our holdings. Working with Google now allows us to open up treasures held in the Alte Nationalgalerie and the Gemäldegalerie to a global audience for them to experience in a completely new form.'
Nelson Mattos, VP Engineering, Google:
'We are delighted to be able to work with the leading art museums of the world. We hope that in this way we can inspire more and more people, wherever they live, to have access to art and explore it - in new and startling detail.'
The Art Project in figures
- 17 museums
- 11 cities, 9 countries
- 17 Gigapixel images
- 1.062 high-resolution images of artworks
- 486 artists
- 385 gallery rooms
- Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin - Germany
- Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian, Washington DC - USA
- The Frick Collection, New York City - USA
- Gemäldegalerie, Berlin - Germany
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City - USA
- MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art, New York City - USA
- Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid - Spain
- Museo Thyssen - Bornemisza, Madrid - Spain
- Museum Kampa, Prague - Czech Republic
- National Gallery, London - UK
- Palace of Versailles - France
- Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam - The Netherlands
- The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg - Russia
- State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow - Russia
- Tate Britain, London - UK
- Uffizi Gallery, Florence - Italy
- Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam - The Netherlands
Videos on the project are available at: www.youtube.com/smb. Press images and more information on the participating galleries of the National Museums in Berlin and on the gigapixel images are available at: www.smb.museum/presse.