Artists’ canvases on your laptop

The Prague Post

Google Art project renders Prague’s Museum Kampa in interactive digital form

Armchair art lovers can now explore nearly 20 world-class museums from the comfort of their couch, while poor but hopeful art collectors can add a Botticelli, a Cezanne or even a Kupka to their imaginary collection, courtesy of Google.

Last month, the Google Art Project went online, showcasing 17 museums from around the world, including London’s National Gallery, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Prague’s own Museum Kampa. For almost two years, Google worked with the museums to get their buildings and collections online. Each gallery chose one piece to be photographed using a super high-resolution camera of 7 billion pixels, and using the company’s “”Street View”” technology, 360 degree tours of the galleries can be experienced.

“We were approached by the Google office in Prague [and asked] if we wanted to participate in this project,” said Meda Mládek, founder of Museum Kampa and the Jan and Meda Mládek Foundation. “We agreed, and now we are really pleased that we did; we wanted to reach the younger generation with this project and get them interested in art.”

Martina Laresová, associate product marketing manager for Google Czech Republic, said the company contacted a number of Czech museums with permanent collections, and Museum Kampa was open to the project.

“Museum Kampa has in its care several very important and extensive collections, which includes two icons of 20th-century art, František Kupka and Otto Gutfreund, and Central European modern art,” she said. “Our goal was to make collections of all the participating museums available, all in one place using specially built new viewing technology that enabled people anywhere to examine works of art in extraordinary detail.”

The project allows viewers to pick a museum and explore either the gallery as a whole or the individual works of art in it. The virtual tour of Museum Kampa offers a good idea of the bright and open museum space. Additionally, each museum has a small “”about”” section that includes a floor plan, brief history, location and, in Museum Kampa’s case, a YouTube video with a museum representative. There are a total of 44 pieces from Museum Kampa, including works by František Kupka, Jirí Kolár and Zdenek Sýkora – just a hint at the museum’s rotating permanent collection.

“You can see online the permanent exhibition as it was exhibited at the time it was filmed,” said Mládek. “Our permanent collection is much larger than what is exhibited, and from time to time, we change the permanent exhibition.”

In total, the Art Project offers 385 gallery rooms, 486 artists, 1,061 high-resolution artwork images and more than 6,000 Street View “panoramas.” Laresová said the project was initiated by several people from Google with a “great enthusiasm for art.”

Cooperation between Google and the museums was very broad and lasted 18 months. Laresová said Google hopes to expand the project in coming months and add more museums.

“There have been more than 10 million visits to the site since we launched, so it’s proving really popular,” she said.

Mládek said the museum didn’t have to invest any funds into the project, and she is pleased with the results, adding they have seen an increased number of visits to their website and social media pages.

“I do not think such a project supports art as such but helps to create a greater awareness of art institutions, which therefore leads to a greater interest in art itself,” she said. “We hope that more young people will visit the museum and that we will expand their knowledge of art.”