In a new effort to increase access to local collections through online technology, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the deYoung Museum have joined the Google Art Project.

As a result of the partnership, free high resolution images of notable works from these local museums and institutions around the world around will now be available for educational purposes; Internet users can take a digital stroll through these respective museums and view some of the artwork on display in the real world while lounging in their desktop chair.


The Google Art user interface is intuitive and fun to use and basically a self-contained reference guide–using the “Discover” feature, you have the option of browsing artwork either by collection or by artist.

Some museums, like the Acropolis (as shown in the video above), even have a street-level tour option, which sort of makes up for not being able to taste authentic spanakopita or splash in the waters of the fabled Mediterranean Sea after a day roaming the halls of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A search feature allows you to filter search results by the title of the piece or by artistic medium. And without opening a new tab, you can click and get details and related videos exploring the particular piece of art you have chosen to examine in greater detail. With a Google log-in, you can select and add pieces to your own personal digital galley, for future viewings.

Thus far, 150 museums from around the globe have joined the movement providing 30,000 high resolution objects for the public to peruse. The de Young museum has contributed 31 works of art from influential American artists and SFMOMA has lent 26 pieces from an assortment of different artists including the piece below by local Bay Area artist Barry McGee.

Barry McGee, Untitled, 2009; mixed-media; collection SFMOMA, fractional gift of the artist and Ratio 3, San Francisco; © Barry McGee


Overall, a handy tool for any school project involving the visual arts. The only thing missing is a similar artists feature or a sort by artistic movement feature–which could theoretically be taken care of by elite users well-versed in art history who can can sort content into public galleries.