Packed Suitcase | The Google Art Project and What It Means for Travel
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The Google Art Project and What It Means for Travel

The Google Art Project and What It Means for Travel

The line between travel and technology has just gotten a little thinner. With today’s unveiling of the Google Art Project, art enthusiasts, teachers and travelers alike can universally access 17 of the world’s best art museums, including New York’s MOMA, the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and France’s Palace of Versailles. All with the simple act of opening a web browser.

The new site transports the viewer, letting them virtually walk the halls of the Met, or get close enough to ponder the thoughts in Van Gogh’s eyes in his self portrait in Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum.

Once in a selected museum, the user has the option of going straight to the museum’s most prized pieces. Using the “View Artwork” option, detailed resources such as viewing notes, art history and You Tube content from the museum is easily accessed. Or, using the same technology as the Google Street View feature, 360-degree photographs let the user “Explore the Museum” as if they were there, looking up, down and all around as they meander through the various exhibits.

However, I see a few drawbacks to this new technology. While I fully admit that the idea is revolutionary and opens the opportunity for many to experience places that may not normally have access, the general lack of people throughout the museums and the oft drab lighting doesn’t always portray the museums at their best. I wonder whether this will ultimately inspire or drive off those who are on the fence about making an actual trip to the museums if they are able.

Take the famed Uffizi Gallery as an example. A decade ago I was fortunate enough to be able to spend some time in the Italian landmark, and my memories are of an awe-inspiring space. But when I look again now virtually through the rooms on the Google Art Project website, the white walls, square room and unflattering lighting overshadow the Botticelli that’s contained within the room.

It leaves me a little, dare I say it, uninspired. Which, one would think, is the opposite affect Google was really going for.

Am I alone in thinking this or do others agree? Leave thoughts in the comments below.

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