Thanks to Google's Art Project, you can take in a version of Vincent van Gogh's "Sunflowers" painting at the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, click your way to The Met in New York to see his "Wheatfield with Cypresses," then scroll up to The Museum of Modern Art for a view of his famous masterpiece "Starry Night" ... all in a matter of minutes. The online project offers free, virtual visits of 17 museums around the world, including the National Gallery in London, the Palace of Versailles in France and the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid.
To get started, select the museum you want to visit from a drop-down menu. From there, you can take a virtual tour of the museum, wandering the galleries as if you were actually there, using Google's Street View technology. Or, you can select a work of art from a second drop-down menu to view up close, zooming in and out to pick up details down to the very brushstroke. From there, you can read more about an artwork and find more works by that artist. The site also has a feature that allows you to save specific views of any of the artworks and build your own personalized collection. Comments can be added to each painting, and your collection can also be shared.
Google notes that "each museum was able to chose the number of galleries, artwork and information they wanted to include, based on reasons specific to them," meaning that the online collection is not comprehensive or entirely representative of the museum's collection. Still, there are plans to expand, and with more than 1,000 artworks currently available, the site is a visit well worth making. Besides, at the end of your tour, only your fingertips will feel tired!