Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Art Work presented by Google

As an Art teacher are you always wondering how you can help your students to understand the feeling behind a Chagall, Rembrandt or Picasso painting? Do you struggle to try and show line and depth using a 2D photograph from a textbook?

Well it just so happens that Google has brought you a new way to look at Art with Art Project. This website is the culmination of a collaborative effort of 17 museums from around the world to share their artwork for all to see. What I think is interesting about the site is that when you are looking at the art you see a small compass tool like object along the left side of the screen that allows you to zoom in and out as well as to pan and move. It is very similar to what Google offers you in its Street View add on for Google Maps. I don't know about you but I immediately started thinking about Virtual Field Trips when I saw this site.

When you land on the sites homepage you choose from the museums listed(17), once you make your selection the website background will change to a theme inspired by the chosen museum. You will then see to the right of the list a work of art and an explore museum option.

When you click on the View Artwork the work comes full screen where you can interact with it either by using the zoom in/out tool in the top left or bottom right of the screen. Once you have zoomed in you can pan around the picture by clicking and dragging around. There is a small photo shot of the artwork in the bottom left that shows you where you are on the image when you are using the zoom in feature.

Along what I would call the toolbar there are some additional options to choose from. One is an informational link at the far right of the page displays information about the work of art. On the left side of the toolbar you can choose a new location as well as another piece of art from the drop down menus.

If you had chosen the Explore Museum option you are taken to a similar screen which displays a point of view look of the museum. As you move the mouse onto the screen you will see arrows that allow you to walk around and move in on a specific area of the page. Just as you would if you were using Street View on Google Maps. When you walk around the room looking at the artwork the ones with a plus(+) sign will allow you to view/inspect them more.

This tool is a great opportunity for teachers to give their students a completely different view of art without having to look through a book or travel to a museum. The Virtual Field trip idea is what hooked me. Art in the virtual world and in a computer lab situation could allow students to walk through the National Gallery in London or the The State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. Places that many students may never have an opportunity to visit.

The website also offers you a Learn More button that gives you some general information about the site and how to use it. You are provided with an FAQ section as well as the list of all participating museums. And if that was not enough Google has provided you with a link to the Art Project You Tube channel so that you can view some of the created videos that go along with this site.

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