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Why the Google Art Project is Important

Wed, 30 May 2012 21:30:00

Excerpted from an e-Literate post by Steven Zucker and Beth Harris, Khan Academy Deans of Art and History:

In many ways, scholarship at its best is conversation. But up until now, museums have conversed very little with one another—either on or offline.

Three van Gogh canvases of his bedroom in Arles

Here is an example of how the Google Art Project opens the conversation. In 1889, Vincent van Gogh painted three canvases depicting his bedroom in Arles; these now reside in three different museums. Only the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam illustrates another version on its website and remarkably, none of the three museums link to the paintings at the other institutions.

In contrast, the Google Art Project allows visitors to create and share a gallery where these paintings can be viewed side by side; it also includes links to their respective museum collections (where they exist). Imagine the educational impact if museums put together online galleries like this one and included commentary from curators at multiple institutions aimed at a non-scholarly audience.

Read the full post here.