Working with museums around the world, Google has used its Art Camera system to capture the finest details of artworks from their collection. In its first five years, the Google Cultural Institute scanned and archived 200 works of art in super-high-resolution gigapixel images. Now in just the past few months, it has managed to scan another 1,000. Zooming into these images is the closest thing to walking up to the real thing with a magnifying glass.
New Art Camera is actually a custom-built camera ready to travel around the world to bring people more of these ultra-high-resolution images than ever possible before. A robotic system steers the camera automatically from detail to detail, taking hundreds of high resolution close-ups of the painting. To make sure the focus is right on each brush stroke, it’s equipped with a laser and a sonar that – much like a bat – uses high frequency sound to measure the distance of the artwork.
Once each detail is captured, the software takes the thousands of close-up shots and, like a jigsaw, stitches the pieces together into one single image.
The new scans are available at the Cultural Institute’s website. Among them, you’ll find works from Monet, O’Keeffe, and Van Gogh, alongside other well-known names.