The University of Michigan Museum of Art held an event Friday celebrating a new collaboration with Google Art Project.

Sixty pieces of UMMA’s art collection were made available on Google’s online art platform through the partnership.
The Google Art project was launched in February 2011 and started with 17 international museums. It now collaborates with 151 art partners in 40 countries. The online gallery holds more than 32,000 pieces of art and is continuing to grow. In addition to viewing pieces of art, the project gives virtual tours of museums and lets users curate their own galleries.

Google created the platform from services it already offers like Street View and Picasa, its photography tool. Google also created several new technologies specifically for Google Art Project, including an indoor version of Street View.

UMMA is the sixth university museum to take part in the project. Museum officials selected the artwork based on their importance and relevance to their history, as well as their educational value and notoriety, they said at the event.

UMMA has 19,000 objects in their collection, spanning from historical to contemporary, and is one of the largest university museums in the country.

Joseph Rosa, director of UMMA, told event attendees that the project is about ensuring as many people as possible can gain enrichment from art.

“We are interested in the general public and making our art accessible to many,” Rosa said. “When this opportunity came our way, we were thrilled and honored.”

Google’s Ann Arbor director, Mike Miller, said the project is a major for Google and will likely expand in the near future.

U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D–Ann Arbor) also attended the event. He thanked Google and UMMA for the project, which he said will help create a better community on campus and around Ann Arbor.

“This is not the first time I’ve seen Google doing good things for this state and this community and this University and this congressional district.” Dingell said. “So, thank you for doing this.”

In an interview after the event, Shoshana Hurand, program director for the Arts Alliance — an organization that promotes art and cultural projects in Washtenaw County — noted that it’s intriguing to see how gallery art is making the transition into the digital age.

“With the whole world going digital,” Hurand said, “I think that it is interesting to see how we can engage these art pieces that ordinarily people could never see if you live in Taiwan or live in Los Angeles. You can see a piece of art that exists at the University of Michigan Museum of Art.”

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