As of this month, you can browse the extensive photographic archive of The George Eastman House Museum, thanks to its partnership with Google’s Art Project.
The George Eastman House Museum is the world’s oldest museum dedicated to photography, and the first of its kind to join Google’s high resolution art collection project.
Google is taking photos of artworks worldwide
In an effort to make art more freely available, Google has been keeping itself busy for the last year, teaming up with museums and galleries around the world, to digitize selected pieces and host them online at a high resolution.
The photos are taken with professional panoramic equipment and can reach resolutions of up to 12 giga-pixels, a thousand times more than that of ordinary cameras. This allows audiences to study unprecedented levels of detail from the comfort of their homes, and enables museums to retire fragile pieces that run the risk of deterioration caused by the accidental flash photo.
By now, 151 museums and galleries from 40 countries have agreed to showcase their collections, including the renowned Tate Gallery, London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City and even the White House Museum. The partnering institutions have also opened their doors for Google’s Street View technology. The Art Project incorporates indoor virtual tours, using Google’s famous 3D mapping.
Speaking of street view, Google has recently begun featuring more unlikely masterpieces, starting with graffiti and street art from San Paulo, Brazil, which definitely cannot withstand the physical test of time, but are of important cultural value, worth preserving.
As in the case of many wide-appealing endeavors, this art program was born out of Google’s “20% time” policy, an accord between the company and its employees to spend 20% of their working time on a project of their choosing.
The George Eastman House submitted 50 photos spanning a period of over 150 years
George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester, New York, was Google’s first pick when it came to choosing a dedicated photo museum. Its collection is world renowned for carefully preserved photographic and motion picture archives, dating since the dawn of the medium.
The Museum’s first run into the collaboration is of 50 photos that showcase various types of photographic styles and techniques, ranging from the 1840’s to late 20th century.
Some of the subjects featured include Martin Luther King Jr., the Lincoln assassination conspirators, the first train wreck ever photographed, the Egyptian pyramids in the 1850’s, and a portrait of photo pioneer Daguerre.
George Eastman’s vision for photography was of wide public appeal
Kodak’s founder dream was to make photography widely accessible, weather through technological innovations or gallery displays. This project adds another stepping stone in his achievement.
As is the case with all Google Art Project pieces, viewers can find out more about each image, like info about the author, materials used, and other relevant data, along with zooming into fine details.
Later this year, the first photo museum’s grounds, including the gardens and vaults, will become available for 360-degree tours.
The George Eastman House staff will periodically add photos from the museum’s rich archive.