Google expands its online gallery of ultra-HD classical art

Vincent van Gogh, Dutch school. Long Grass with Butterflies, 1890. Oil on canvas (64.5 x 80.7 cm). L...


The number of artworks now available in ultra-HD via Google's Arts & Culture project


Photo 12/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

We certainly enjoy a good dunk on Google from time to time, but credit must be given where credit is due. The company’s Cultural Institute service is doing some damn fine work when it comes to ultra-high-definition digitalization of the world’s major works of art. Recently, the program’s ongoing Gigapixel project vastly expanded its catalog of 2D and 3D objects for the public’s enjoyment from just 200 images to over 1,800, with more to be added regularly. It’s quite the lovely, educational time-suck, if we do say so ourselves.

As Open Culture recently explained, the massive archive increase is thanks in large part to a new automation process using something called an Art Camera, which Google explained back in 2016 as being a robotic system controlling a camera “from detail to detail, taking hundreds of high-resolution close-ups of the painting.” The Art Camera is also equipped with both a laser and sonar that relies on high-frequency sound to measure a piece of art’s distance “much like a bat,” which sounds pretty badass.

Those looking to get real up close and personal with thousands of historic masterpieces can head over to Google Arts & Culture’s Gigapixel gallery to check them out for yourself. Open Culture also notes that Google offers multiple ways to experience these pieces thanks to its Arts & Culture app, including a “street view” that simulates an actual museum gallery, as well as an AR Art Projector feature that “lets you see how artworks look in real size in front of you.”

Actually, we’d like to get as far away from this one as possible, thank you.Google

Alright, now back to the dunking — Okay, that’s enough free Google goodwill for one day; let’s go back to the ways it’s awful. Most recently, the company announced that it will soon ban “sugar dating” apps beginning September 1, we assume because the people in charge are a bunch of prudes. Then there was that whole thing about Google trying to skirt around properly paying news outlets in France, which thankfully it totally got called out for. So yeah, for every cool thing Google manages to roll out, there seems to be at least one bullshit counter to the good news.