Did you know that British museums are most googled museums in the world? Science Museum in London is the most googled museum in the world, the Natural History Museum is second, and third is the British Museum - in front of The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC. And as far for the British Museum, you don't have to google anything anymore. Hm, or you are going to google it even more now. It depends on how you look at it. However, the thing is this: the British Museum and Google concluded a cooperation in which aforementioned has shared its priceless artworks online in Google Cultural Institute partnership. This way, the British Museum has become the largest indoor Street View project in the world and the first major UK institution that opened its galleries and collection Google Street View. And all of this is free for everyone with internet connection, of course.
So, you wish to see the famous Rosetta Stone, which helped unlock the secret of Egyptian hieroglyphs? Or the sculpture from the Parthenon, that Greece is unsuccessfully trying to return to where it belongs - in Athens? Not a problem - the total of seven floors of the British Museum are completely open (ground floor, floors 1-3 and fifth floor, with two basement levels, as well), and apart from the permanent exhibition, the highlights of temporary exhibitions will be also online - right now, you can go and see exhibitions inspired by the Celts and the ancient Egyptian religions.
It has taken 15 months of hard work by the people from Google and the British Museum to complete this monumental venture. It was all done after hours, when the numerous visitors would have left the museum. The Google Cultural Institute used special lightbulbs to get the same amount of lighting throughout the whole museum, and a special camera on wheels, that captured more than 4,500 objects from all angles. Thanks to the powerful high-definition Gigapixel technology, objects could be inspected into the details, which will help students, professors, scientists, as well as artists and art historians.
Heck, this online viewing of the British Museum even has some advantages over the "real thing", over actually going to the British Museum with other 6.7 million visitors per year: you are able to see things that couldn't be put on display because of their fragility, at least, not full time. One of the examples of this case is Admonitions Scroll, a Chinese narrative painting on silk from 4th or 5th century. We'll end up with words of Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum: "The world today has changed, the way we access information has been revolutionized by digital technology. This enables us to give the Enlightenment ideal on which the Museum was founded a new reality. It is now possible to make our collection accessible, explorable and enjoyable not just for those who physically visit, but to everybody with a computer or a mobile device". Bravo to the British Museum and Google. We hope that others will follow, soon.
Your opinion is valuable to us! Please join us for a discussion on our Facebook page.
All images courtesy of Google Cultural Institute