Technology behind the Art Project

Art Project is a Python-based Google App Engine web application. The site exists entirely on Google's infrastructure, and was built using Google APIs that are available to the public.

Museums on Street View

You can click on the pegman at the top to find collections that have “Museum View” available, which uses Street View technology to enable people to explore institutions galleries in the same way as Street View in Google Maps lets people wander city streets virtually. In each institution, the Museum View imagery for selected artworks is annotated so you can click through to see the zoomable, high resolution image

Zoom in with ‘microscope view’

The site also allows you to browse partner collections, artists, and artworks. Once viewing the artwork, Art Project’s ‘microscope view’ uses Picasa to deliver amazingly high-resolution captures of artworks. Users can zoom into the finest points of the work which allows them to see details from a vantage previously only seen by art restorers. People can then learn more about the artwork they are viewing by clicking the “Details” button to read through the information about the artwork provided by the museum and in some cases listen to audio and video provided by the institutions that give special insights into the work.

Gigapixel paintings

Some museums chose one artwork to feature in ‘gigapixel’ resolution. The images of these works contain around 7 billion pixels -- that’s around 1000 times more detailed than your average digital camera! And tens of times higher resolution than the other artworks on the site.

In order to take such a high resolution image the team uses professional cameras and computer systems and ‘multisyncronise’ movement units. After the thousands of individual images were taken they were assembled back together and hosted using Picasa technology. All artwork imagery in the project was then tiled into smaller components to enable the viewing of all the high resolution pixels efficiently online, and to allow for the high level and fast zooming into paintings.

User galleries

People can also share their experience on Art Project with friends, family or study groups. By logging in with their Google account, they can create personalized galleries of artwork from throughout the site. Using the integrated URL shortener, they can then share unique links to their user galleries by email or via social media. You can even start a Google+ hangout right from the toolbar to start a discussion about your favourite work with your friends.


A tool called 'Compare' allows you to examine two pieces of artwork side-by-side. Look at how an artist’s technique evolved over time, connect features in decorative arts across cultures, or delve deeply into two parts of the same artwork. For example, view an early sketch of Winslow Homer's 'The Life Line' from the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum next to the completed painting from the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see how the artist's vision developed over the life of the work.