I love museums of any kind. Ok, except for Modern Art. I have tried, but I just don't get it. I should not have been surprised when I heard about a new Google tool yesterday called the Art Project, especially when I have stumbled upon the ability to enter some musuems, such as the Louvre, in Google Earth. This new art site incorporates the technology that allows the ease of traveling in Google Earth and incredible imaging of the world's great masterpieces.
The beauty of the site is it's simplicity. Only half of the homepage is used for drop down menus, while the background is a constantly changing array of artwork. The focus is clearly on highlighting the museum holdings, not creating an elaborate website.
The site is very easy to use, with two initial choices of selecting a museum to explore and then deciding between exploring the museum or the artwork within it. Each piece of artwork is accompanied by physical details, artisti information, media, viewing notes, the history of ownership and other artworks by that artist. The museum exploration option includes an interactive floor plan, works in the museum, history, links to offical site and, of course, it's location on Google Maps.
For those desiring a little more instruction, there are two short video clips linked from YouTube. There is one that explains how to use the site and a behind the scenes video. Each video is only a few minutes long. The behind the scenes video is merely a montage of the museums included in the project and the photographing of the masterpieces, but it still makes one a bit jealous of those participating in such an endeavor.