The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum—and many other international museums—can now be visited online from anywhere in the world, thanks to a new Google partnership.
The Google Cultural Institute has created complete first-person walk-throughs—similar to Google Maps’ “Street View”—for over 400 collections worldwide. The Gardner, located at 280 The Fenway, joined the ranks last month.
The virtual reality walk-through allows viewers to look around the museum’s interior from any angle, as if they were standing there and looking around. It also includes high-resolution close-ups of select objects in the Gardner collection, including the museum’s famous “El Jaleo” by John Singer Sargent and “Isabella Stewart Gardner in Venice” (ca. 1894) by Anders Zorn.
Standard museum admission is $15, but the Google tour is free. The museum did not respond to questions about how it might impact real-life attendance or whether Google is paying any fees.
“As a cultural institution, we are constantly looking for innovative ways to engage, educate and build relationships with existing and new audiences,” Anne Hawley, the museum’s director, said in a release. “Our participation in the Google art project enables us to capture the attention and interest of audiences around the world, providing a unique opportunity to explore and learn about the museum and our collection.”
The Google Cultural Institute photographed and virtually mapped the Gardner Museum galleries last May.
“Isabella Stewart Gardner created her museum with a mind towards preserving art for future generations to educate and enrich the public,” Steve Vinter, site lead for Google’s Cambridge office, said in the press release. “The Google Cultural Institute shares this vision and aims to further her mission by making this wonderful collection accessible to art lovers worldwide through a few clicks of a mouse.”
Visitors to the Google Cultural Institute can browse 57,000 high-resolution objects by the artist’s name, the type of art, the museum, the country, collections and the time period.
Some other participating museums worldwide include the Museé d’Orsay in Paris; the Museu de Arte Moderna in São Paulo, Brazil; the Adachi Museum of Art in Yasugi, Japan; and the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner’s website is gardnermuseum.org. The Google Cultural Institute is online at google.com/culturalinstitute.