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Week of April 22, 2013

UMMA among first university art museums to join Google Art Project

The potential impact might not be so farfetched: In several years, Google Art Project could be to the international art museum world and cultural literacy what “googling” has meant for Internet searchers — a greater access to information and broader understanding of the connection among cultures.

On April 19, the U-M Museum of Art joined a list of many of the most renowned international art museums participating in the Google Art Project, an online virtual journey to some of the most fascinating artworks in the world.

The project, which launched two years ago, has grown from about a dozen museums to more than 150 in 40 countries. More than 40,000 high-resolution objects are available for viewing.

“The Google Art Project is very important to us,” said UMMA Director Joseph Rosa. “We serve as a cultural nexus for the university, but we also understand our global responsibility in making the arts accessible to the masses. Not to negate the value of seeing a work of art in person, but we believe that it is just as important to interact with this visually literate generation in the digital space as well.

“We see value in both visitors to our museum, and to our website and online collections. It is an opportunity to allow for students and educators to make connections and interpret art without physical barriers.”

UMMA is among the first group of American university art museums to participate in the project, joining Yale, Princeton, Rutgers and the University of Texas. Featured art museums include Tate Gallery, London; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; Uffizi, Florence, Italy; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; White House, Washington, D.C.; Australian Rock Art Gallery at Griffith University, Brisbane; Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar; and Hong Kong Museum of Art.

Curators selected 60 images from UMMA’s collection, which collectively reflect the expansive range of the museum’s encyclopedic collection, including works from Claude Monet, James Abbott Whistler, Eastman Johnson, Gurcino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri), Tiffany and Hosoda Eishi.

The Google Art Project aims to increase the popularity and accessibility to art museums at a time when many museums are struggling financially.

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