untangling the awkward relationship between art and money

Need a little time out from the daily grind? Google Gallery to the rescue!

Feel like a visit to the Uffizi, or a stroll down the vaulted marble corridors of the Met in New York? Well, look no further. Although there has been a degree of scepticism and suspicion about Google and its streetview technology (what privacy concerns?), the company has put it to good use for those of us seeking a High Culture (capitals used advisedly) experience on the interwebs.

Head over to the Google Art Project, and you can navigate some of the world’s greatest museums using the same bells and whistles Google uses on its streetview maps. Google and the museums in question have collaborated to produce the site in the name of access and sharing the world’s cultural wealth. It’s actually quite a lot of fun. The resolution of the pictures is a little sub-par… but still… short of flying over for a whistle-stop tour, this is a fair substitute for a bit of armchair travel. Another highlight of the site is that each museum has picked one work of art to be photographed at ludicrously high resolution. You can zoom in and see every single speck of paint and hairline crack in far more detail than you ever would if you were viewing the painting in the flesh. It’s quite a revelation. Here’s a guessing game for you – can you recognise the detail shown above? Answer below. No peeking.

(Image via Google Art Project – it’s the ‘Birth of Venus’ by Sandro Botticelli, from the Uffizi Gallery)

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