The Israel Museum in your hands

April 5, 2012 by  
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The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, has joined the Google Art Project (www.googleartproject.com), making its galleries and hundreds of highlights from its permanent collection accessible online to audiences in Australia and New Zealand….including the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Stone Mask

The partnership is part of a major global expansion of the project which now counts 151 partners in 40 countries, an increase from 17 museums in nine countries when the project first launched in February 2011. More than 30,000 high resolution objects held in museums around the world are now available for viewing, up from the original 1,000 when the project was first launched.
The Google Art Project features 520 of the most important objects in the Israel Museum’s expansive collections, with high resolution images that allow viewers to examine works in exceptional detail, together with background information on objects and artists. Visitors may also explore the Museum’s campus and permanent galleries virtually, using Google’s Street View technology.
“The Israel Museum’s encyclopedic holdings are an invaluable resource, enriching our understanding and appreciation of global culture from prehistory to the present day,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “Our collections are universal, covering nearly every period and culture across the timeline of human history.  We are thrilled to extend our partnership with Google by joining the Google Art Project and bringing over 500 of our greatest treasures in the fine arts, archaeology of the ancient Holy Land, and Jewish world culture to audiences everywhere.”
Among the collection highlights on view through the Google Art Project are:

♣    Neolithic Mask: Among the oldest known masks in existence, this carved human face belongs to a very rare group of stone masks dating back 9,000 years, found in the Judean Desert and its environs.

♣    Bronze Medallion of Titus: This rare, ancient coin, from 80 CE, depicts the Colosseum in Rome, which was funded with booty seized from Judea after the suppression of the First Jewish Revolt.

♣    Interior of 18th-century Vittorio Veneto Synagogue, Italy: This fully restored interior of an 18th-century synagogue from the small town of Vittorio Veneto near Venice, Italy, is elegantly designed in typical Italian Baroque style.

♣    Jewelry of Jewish Brides in Djerba: These exquisitely decorated jewels, adorned with motifs of barley seeds, fish, birds, and hamsas believed to ensure  fertility and ward off the evil eye, were worn by Jewish brides on the North African island of Djerba.

♣    Claude Monet’s Water Lilies, 1907: One of Monet’s tranquil and contemplative waterscapes, this work omits the surrounding landscape completely, with water extending to all four edges of the canvas.

“Google is committed to bringing art and culture online and making them universally accessible,” said Professor Yossi Matias, Managing Director of Google’s R&D Center in Israel. “The new expanded Art Project demonstrates our commitment to all types of art, cultures, and civilizations from around the globe. With just a few clicks, users can now discover an extensive selection of paintings, sculpture, street art, and photographs. The resolution of these images, combined with a custom built zoom viewer, allows art lovers to discover minute aspects of paintings and other objects they may never have seen up close.”

The Jewellery of Jewish brides in Djerba

Key features of the expanded Google Art Project include:
•    Street View images are now displayed in finer quality than the original version of the Google Art Project, enabling smooth navigation of over 385 rooms within selected museums. Gallery interiors can also be explored directly from within Street View in Google Maps (http://maps.google.com/museums).
•    Users may browse content by artists’ names, artworks, types of art, museums, countries, collections, and time periods.
•    44 museums selected one artwork to be photographed in exceptional detail using super high resolution, or ‘gigapixel,’ photo capturing technology. Each such image contains approximately 7 billion pixels, enabling viewers to study details of brushwork and patina beyond that possible with the naked eye.
•    The ‘Create an Artwork Collection’ feature allows users to save specific views of any artworks and build their own personalized collections. Comments can be added to each painting, and whole collections can then be shared.
“This is an important day for Israeli culture and even more so for culture lovers all over the world,” said MK Limor Livnat, Minister of Culture and Sport.  “With Google Art’s innovative platform any cultural aficionado, anywhere in the world, can tour the Israel Museum virtually. While this is not the same as visiting the Museum in person, it is as close as one can get and highly inspiring. The technological progress experienced by the world in recent years transforms global culture too, and it’s great to have Israel in the picture.”

The partnership between the Israel Museum and Google follows their recent collaboration to make the Dead Sea Scrolls accessible online. Launched in the fall of 2011, the Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Project (dss.collections.imj.org.il) allows scholars and public alike to explore these ancient biblical texts at a level of detail never before possible.

Dr. Susan Hazan, Curator of New Media and Head of the Museum’s Internet Office, directed the Israel Museum’s participation in the Google Art Project with Amalyah Keshet, Head of the Museum’s Image Resources & Copyright Management Department.

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