Google's Online Art Collection Adds 3D Viewing
It’s not the same as admiring a bust of Emperor Augustus (1 AD - 25 AD) in person at the Kunsthistorisches Museum of Fine Arts in Vienna. But what you can do—that’s off limits with just about any museum collection—is manipulate the ancient artifact, turn it around to examine it from all angles, and even zoom in to take a closer look. As part of this latest addition to the Google Art Project, hundreds of objects from six prominent museums have been scanned in 3D and are now available to study online—in three dimensions.
In 2011 the Google Cultural Institute launched the Art Project as an online portal to high-resolution images of artworks found in major museums worldwide. The collection is eclectic, pulling from art institutions such as the Royal Collection Trust in London, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the White House, and the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar to the Coachella Walls street art in South Los Angeles.
Initially, six museums are part of a pilot program that includes scanned small art objects and an interesting collection of animal skulls. Undoubtedly, Google will expand the collection to include other museums. At this time, Google doesn’t enable the objects to be downloaded and 3D-printed, but hopefully that too will follow. Currently, the Smithsonian includes a few objects in its collection to be downloaded and 3D printed, such as Abraham Lincoln “life mask” cast by sculptor Clark Mills in 1865.
Click on one of the links below to see each museum’s 3D-scanned objects:
While most museums enforce a strict “no photography allowed” policy, Google Art Project lets you select objects and curate your personal online exhibit.