Google Gigapixel ‘Art Camera’ Captures Every Brushstroke Of World’s Most Precious Artwork

Many people would likely love to visit the Louvre one day, but most won't get more than a glance of all of the amazing art contained within its walls. The Gigapixel Art Camera from the Google Cultural Institute, however, makes it so that users can inspect over 1,000 artworks online. Google Cultural Institute engineer Ben St. John stated, “Zooming into these images is the closest thing to walking up to the real thing with a magnifying glass.”

google art camera

The Art Camera is a robotic camera, custom-built to create Gigapixel (over one billion pixels) images. The robotic system takes hundreds of high resolution close-ups of the painting. The camera has a built-in laser and sonar that enables it to use high frequency sound to measure the distance of the artwork. Once all of the information about the artwork is gathered, its software creates a Gigapixel image.

The camera allows users to admire artwork from all over the world for free. St. John noted, “If you wanted to see Van Gogh’s six famous portraits of the Roulin family up close, you’d need to travel across the Netherlands then over to LA and New York. Now the Art Camera can travel for you.”

The Art Camera also preserves artworks. Most works of art are incredibly fragile and sensitive to light and humidity. The Art Camera allows museums to share their artwork while still preserving the delicate pieces. Google will send Art Cameras to museums worldwide for free in order to continue this preservation work.

If art is not your thing, you can find, documents, photographs, and artifacts on the Google Cultural Institute website. Google has also partnered with these museums to offer free apps so that you can admire the museum collections on the website while listening to a museum tour guide.

The Art Camera release is part of the celebration of International Museum Day. According to the website, the objective of International Museum Day is to raise awareness of the fact that, “Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.” In 2015 alone, more than 35,000 museums participated in the event in some 145 countries, including the United States and Canada.

To check out all of these amazing museums yourself, click here.