Never stopping in its quest to make the world searchable, Google has just unveiled a new app that makes it as easy to find the opening times of your local museum as it is to figure out who painted that bright purple Impressionist masterpiece you saw five years ago at the Louvre.
It’s called Google Arts & Culture, and it’s a tool for discovering art “from more than a thousand museums across 70 countries,” Google writes on its blog. More than just an online display of art, though, it encourages viewers to parse the works and gather insight into the visual culture we rarely encounter outside the rarified world of brick-and-mortar museums.
For instance, you can browse all of Van Gogh’s paintings chronologically to see how much more vibrant his work became over time. Or you can sort Monet’s paintings by color for a glimpse at his nuanced use of gray.
You can also read daily stories about subjects such as stolen Nazi artworks or Bruegel’s Tower of Babel. The articles are plucked from the web pages of over 1,000 partner museums around the world, and strained through Google’s algorithms so that the presentation is crisp, clean, and full of beautiful, full-bleed images.
Another killer feature of Arts & Culture is the ability to use Google’s Street View functionality to actually go into museums and see a painting or statue where it really exists, all without leaving your phone or computer. So you can see how museums have displayed the Mona Lisa, or Monet’s Waterlilies, in real-life, giving them a sense of scale and physicality that usually eludes viewers who are looking at art online. It even comes with Google Cardboard support.
For art lovers, Arts & Culture is the kind of site you can spend hours browsing, discovering and rediscovering famous artists, institutions, and masterpieces, all without ever leaving your couch.