Imagine strolling along the banks of the Seine in Paris, the glint of the sun enough to call to mind Seurat’s The Seine at Courbevoie, held at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Works of another incorrigible self-portraitist, Rembrandt, are at the Uffizi in Florence, which also has one panel from Paolo Uccello’s celebrated and seminal The Battle of San Romano triptych, the other two being at the National Gallery in London and the Louvre in Paris. The Louvre is yet to yield to its charms, but the Google Cultural Institute and its many collaborators make it possible to view the triptych (and the other artwork mentioned above), if not as one altarpiece, then at least almost simultaneously. Now, with the ASI partnering with Google to offer 360-degree panoramic walkabouts of 30 of India’s greatest heritage sites, anyone armed with an internet connection can tour the Muchu Kundeshwara temple just after taking in the Taj. The plan is to expand the project to include 100 heritage buildings.
Select works of art from the National Gallery of Modern Art and National Museum in Delhi have been accessible through the Google Art Project since 2012. The project has made it possible for non-specialists worldwide to explore and examine the art from museums everywhere on a single interface. Indian art no longer in India can be accessed and viewed from home, often closely enough to see individual brushstrokes and the specks and cracks of paint.
More, the project puts Indian history and art on a global platform, connecting it to our larger heritage, working in parallel with other museums and monuments to tell stories that can explain who we are.