Bloomberg has an interesting story on the expansion of Google’s Art Project. Some museums, like the Israel Museum, have grasped the program as an opportunity to expand awareness of their collection and promote familiarity with the institution. They even see it as bit of marketing:
The Israel Museum has already put the Dead Sea Scrolls online and they were seen by 1 million visitors from more than 200 countries in about three days. The next step in collaboration was “almost a marriage of the moment,” James Snyder, director of Israel Museum, said in an interview.
Art Project is still in its infancy. It still lacks the necessary density to be a visual reference tool along the lines of Wikipedia. Fears of Google’s submerging an museum’s identity may be one reason benchmark institutions like the Louvre have not joined. Nonetheless, don’t expect to see too much Contemporary art on the service any time soon. Amit Sood, the creator of the Art Project, puts forward a dubious idea that has already gotten Google into trouble in the publishing world where the company went to libraries to digitize the works of authors who still held copyright.
“Out of pure coincidence we’ve reunited the three versions of Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘The Bedroom’ in one place,” said Sood, who came up with the idea for Art Project two-and-a-half years ago and now heads a team of seven people in London, including former employees of the Met and the Tate.
By striking deals only with the museums, and not with artists, their heirs nor foundations, Google avoids having to deal with copyright issues, Sood said. The company has included image security technology in the database to protect the photos, he also said.