Fine art, spectacular detail: Google’s gigapixel Art Camera puts the masters under the microscope


posted Thursday, May 19, 2016 at 6:59 AM EST


We've mentioned the superb work done by the Google Cultural Institute several times on our news page. Now, courtesy of Google's blog and a related YouTube video (shown below), we're getting an interesting peek at one of the impressive tools the company has designed to help it in its goal of preserving and promoting culture online and worldwide.

The Google Art Camera is about as specialized as they come, able to record a meter-square painting at jawdropping gigapixel resolution in as little as 30 minutes. This is achieved by capturing hundreds of separate images at high resolution, with a combination of laser and sonar ranging used to ensure the finest details are preserved in sharp focus.

Google's custom-built Art Camera has already been used to preserve 1,000 artworks at gigapixel resolution.

Google says that it is providing "a fleet" of Art Cameras free of charge to museums worldwide, with which to create an ultra high-res digital record of their priceless artworks. And as of yesterday, the company notes that it has just shared the first thousand images of artworks by the likes of Pissarro, Signac, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Monet and more, all captured with the Art Camera.

That's no mean feat when you consider that prior to creating this clever camera, it took Google a full five years to create and share its first 200 gigapixel images. If you want to see the works of the masters like you've never seen them before -- and all without even leaving your desk -- you can browse a collection of images shot with the Art Camera on the Google Cultural Institute website.

(via The Verge. Index image courtesy of Google shows a detail from The Port of Rotterdam by Paul Signac.)