It isn't always easy for art teachers to instill a love of art into their students. It's particularly hard for art teachers in rural schools that are far away from a city or any major cultural center.
Google is changing this with a new and innovative tool called the "Google Art Project", launched on February 1st, 2011. This project has many similarities to the technology that's used in the "street view" tool on Google Maps. Google used this technology in a brand new product that lets you navigate and explore art museums from all across the world.
When you first enter Google Art Project
, you'll find yourself staring at a zoomed view of a famous work of art. Framed to the left side of the screen you'll see a list of some of the most famous art museums in the world. What makes this project so exciting is that you can visit and walk through museums in Madrid, New York City, Berlin, London and elsewhere. Not only can you explore the museums themselves, but you can also view and explore famous art pieces in a level of detail never before possible on the Internet.
The Google Art Project is easy enough for school children to explore, making it effective even in an elementary school classroom. From the main menu, you can select from the entire list of museums, and then choose whether you want to explore the museum itself, or immediately start examining the highlighted work of art. Either link takes you inside the museum, but "View Artwork" lets you immediately start viewing artwork without the need to navigate through the museum itself.
Exploring the Museum
Kids really have a lot of fun exploring the museums with Google Art Project because it's reminiscent of many first person video games that kids are used to playing today. The ability to navigate down the hallways and rooms of an art museum can really get kids excited about what amazing statue or beautiful work of art they'll discover around the next corner.
When you spot a particular piece of artwork on the wall that you'd like to view more closely, all you have to do is hover the mouse over that area of the wall and you'll see a faint box appear. When you click, the view will zoom on that area of the wall. This is an actual view of the real artwork, not a recreation or computerized image. You can observe the art from this distance, or if you'd really like to observe it up close, all you have to do is click on the "plus" sign to zoom in.
Examining the Artwork
Once you click to zoom on a work of art, the Google Art view changes to a 2D view where you can click on an area of the painting and then zoom in to a level of detail that is truly remarkable considering that the image is a scanned version of the real artwork.
View Painting Details
With many of these paintings, you can zoom in so close to the art that you can actually view the intricate details of the brush strokes, the subtle changes in color shades, and even the crackling of the paint from age. It is an amazing experience to view some of the world's most famous artwork at this level of extreme detail.
Create Your Own Collection
While you're viewing any work of art, you'll notice in the lower right corner of the screen that you can click a link to create your own art collection. When you click on this link, a bar will open at the bottom of the current art view where you can save the painting and view settings for future reference.
You can even add your own notes about the view. This is an excellent resource for art teachers to add notations that students can later view in order to get better insight about famous artwork.
Palace of Versailles
Some of the places that you can explore in Google Art Project go beyond just standard art museums that only offer paintings. Many of the museums house beautiful statues and other objects of beauty. One particular location that you can explore with Google Art is the Palace of Versailles, a building filled with some of the most masterful and stunning works of art in the world. Much of the artwork actually makes up part of the decor of the Palace itself.
The State Tretyakov Gallery
What makes Google Art Project such an amazing resource for educators is the ability to visit so many locations across the world, and help students explore the large collection of artwork that can be found there. You can help your students explore the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow (show in the image above), the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin, or the National Gallery of London, all from within any web browser. This is a tool that should be available in every school.
Exploring by Floor Plan
If the navigation system is too complicated or cumbersome to learn, you can also opt to explore these museums by their floor plan. This lets you click on one room at a time without the need to slowly navigate throughout the various hallways.
The introduction of Google Art Project is hopefully a sign of things to come. The ability to explore important locations, such as the world's greatest art museums, is a wonderful way to share the wonder and beauty of these stunning works of art with the entire world.
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