The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is among several California museums included in the global expansion of Google’s pioneering Art Project, originally launched in February of 2011 and now unveiled in a significantly enhanced platform on Tuesday, April 3. An online compilation of high-resolution images and virtual gallery tours from a broad range of art institutions, the Google Art Project now involves 151 partners in 40 countries and enables art lovers everywhere to discover more than 30,000 objects from collections and cultures worldwide—all in one place and just clicks away.
Saluting creativity in its own region—a renown center of innovative thinking—SFMOMA’s initial contribution to the project represents a sampling of the rich history and diversity of art making in the Bay Area, with 26 works by artists such as Robert Bechtle, Joan Brown, Harrell Fletcher and Miranda July, Jim Goldberg, David Ireland, Dorothea Lange, Barry McGee, Eadweard Muybridge, David Park, Leslie Shows, Clyfford Still, Peter Wegner, and Henry Wessel, among others. Visitors to SFMOMA’s pages of the Art Project will be able to access video footage, biographies, and deep insight into the work of all these artists without ever leaving the interface.
Although SFMOMA’s collection has grown to become truly international in both scope and importance, its effort to explore the most compelling work of the region has remained a significant focus since the museum’s founding in 1935. SFMOMA will expand its offerings to the Google Art Project in the coming months to include works by more national and international artists.
“SFMOMA is widely acknowledged as a leader among museums worldwide for our inventive approach to online engagement, and this exciting project furthers our commitment to extend compelling experiences with contemporary art into the digital realm,” says SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra. “We are thrilled to join with Google and our forward-thinking museum partners to broaden access to art, which is so crucial to cultural vitality and particularly important at a time when many schools are struggling to provide even minimal arts education.”
“Over the past decade SFMOMA has explored various strategies for enhancing the museum experience through digital outreach,” says Chad Coerver, Chief Content Officer at SFMOMA. “For us Google’s Art Project is less about unmooring objects in our collection from their onsite context, and more about creating an opportunity for online audiences to delve into museums’ collective knowledge, share their own virtual collections, and participate in an international conversation about art.”
Users can browse Google Art Project content by artist name, artwork titles, medium, museum, country, or time period. The “create an artwork collection” feature allows users to save specific views of any artwork and build their own personalized collections. Comments can be added to each painting and the whole collection can then be shared, making the platform ideal for group collaboration. Using the “discover” tool, online visitors can also easily explore works across participating partners, going deeper into works by a particular artist represented in multiple collections.