Google's Art Camera Lets You See Paintings Like You Never Imagined

Art aesthetes rejoice. Google is now offering an extreme closeup on several famous paintings as part of their Art Camera project, CNET reports.

Google Cultural Institute will send a passel of cameras around the world for International Museum Day, May 18, and capture famous pieces of art. The Art Camera is equipped to capture gigapixel images. So far, Google has only captured 200 such images.

Full disclosure, my mother worked on this initiative for two years during her time at Google, which concluded in 2014. During that time, the process of photographing gigapixel images took hours, many thousands of dollars, and needed a completely stable room. That excluded museums which stand above subway tracks. The process is now much streamlined and only requires a single camera.

“Many of the works of our greatest artists are fragile and sensitive to light and humidity,” Google wrote in a blog post. “With the Art Camera, museums can share these priceless works with the global public while ensuring they're preserved for future generations. We want to give museums the tools they need to do this important work, so we're sending a fleet of these cameras from museum to museum around the world—for free.”

Google has posted the first 1,000 artworks, including some by masters like Rembrandt and Pissarro, on its Art Camera portal. There, you can zoom in and view individual brush strokes, examine near-hidden signatures, and basically gawp to your heart’s content. No nosy docent will tell you to move on.

Watch the Art Camera in action below.

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