Screen shot 2011 02 01 at 11.42.39 AM Googles Art Project brings museums to the masses using Street View

Google provides its employees with a number of perks, most notably snazzy offices, unlimited food and the ability to spend 20% of your time working on a personal project, aptly named the “20% Project.” Although, it can be argued that all of these “perks” are just Google’s way of keeping its employees at the office for as long as possible (have you seen their sleep pods?).

The latest success to come out of the 20% Project is Amit Sood’s Art Project, which lets users browse thousands of works of art, online by collection and in extraordinary detail. Using access to technology like Picasa and App Engine, Sood and her team of colleagues built brand-new technology to enable Street View to go into museums and collections.

At Art Project‘s website, users can browse incredibly high-res images of famous works of art and take a virtual tour inside 17 of the world’s most acclaimed art museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA in New York, The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Tate Britain & The National Gallery in London, Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

It started when a small group of us who were passionate about art got together to think about how we might use our technology to help museums make their art more accessible—not just to regular museum-goers or those fortunate to have great galleries on their doorsteps, but to a whole new set of people who might otherwise never get to see the real thing up close. -Amit Sood, Head of Google Art Project

Screen shot 2011 02 01 at 11.49.38 AM Googles Art Project brings museums to the masses using Street View

The app lets you zoom in at brushstroke level at 1,000 times more detail than the average digital camera, explore museums in 360 view, and “create your own art collection” by saving your favorite images into a personal gallery. Comments can then be added to each painting and the whole collection can then be shared with friends, family or on the web using the integrated goo.gl URL shortener.

The Art Project is perfect for students, geographically disadvantaged folk and lovers of art everywhere.