At the beginning of February, Google launched a new tool called the Google Art Project. Using their mapping interface, they have created a space where anyone can navigate virtually though museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of London and the Palace of Versailles and not only see the museum but acutally see the paintings and images of these museums by zooming so far the brush strokes and cracks in the paint can be seen. It’s really an amazing experience.
While the Art Project itself is really impressive, the uses in the classroom are equally impressive. While it lends itself nicely to an art classroom, there are so many other uses that can come in when thinking about the analysis of images and why things might be shown in specific light at different times in history. The “cool factor” is certainly there, but let’s look beyond the cool factor and think about how students think. Looking back at past posts, the focus on using nonlinguistic representation is one that’s been addressed before. Students are more visual now than ever and images are an important part of their lives. So bringing art into a math class to discuss geometric designs and shapes that are used in images can help them to better grasp concepts. Using works of art as story starters in an English class can bring great inspiration to students. In a science classroom these works of art could be discussion starters on the aging process of different elements because you can zoom in so far that you can see the cracks that time has ravaged on these paintings. These pieces can capture the imagination of students by bringing them closer to these historic works than most will ever be in their lives. They can find relevance and meaning inside these images if given the opportunity to be introduced to them.
As with so many things that Google makes, sharing these works is easy inside of the Art Project. You can make your own gallery and essentially bookmark these images for quicker access later as well as get direct links that you could post on a website or in an email. Maybe the best part about it is that it’s all browser based so there’s no software to try to download and install.
Here’s an example of Starry Starry Night by Vincent van Gough brought to you by the Google Art Project.
Google isn’t the only game in town though. Another site called Synthscape has been doing this for quite awhile and has a number of museums where you can take a virtual tour and view artwork. While they don’t seem to have as many museums or virutal tours, they do have similar interactive, high-res images that you’ll find in the Art Project
Here’s an example of the Rivera Court brought to you by Synthscape.
Bringing art into your classroom brings another aspect of history, culture and imagery to your students. Explore these features with an eye for how you can use it in your own content area to connect with your students in meaningful ways. If you know of any other imagery sites like this, please share so more and more students can see these works.