The Art Project is a collaboration between Google and some of the world’s most acclaimed museums. It allows uses to take an online virtual tour around some of the world most prestigious art galleries, zoom in on some of the most famous artworks to amazing detail and listen to online commentary. Whilst there are some notable exclusions of paintings and galleries, it is a work in progress and the Art Project powered by Google plans to expand its collection of galleries and artworks.
This is a great brand partnership between the internets largest organiser of online information and the cultural centres of the world. Google has been so far very good a documenting the actual world to appear on the virtual world, with Google Maps and Google Street View, and it is great to see them capturing and documenting the worlds most important art. Whilst it can never replace the experience of visiting these museums in reality is does provide and very useful educational, documentation and accessibility resource.
It would seem from the outside that some galleries appear to be a little stand-offish letting Google in, by the notable absence of galleries like the Louvre in Paris which houses artworks like Da Vinci’s, ‘Mona Lisa‘ and although the Museo Reina Sofía is included its most famous painting Picasso’s, ‘Guernica‘ misses out, which brings up the question, is Google an online library or a for-profit search engine and can it be both? I can imagine that some of these museums might also be a little confused, because, while universal access is one of Google’s goals, Ipad uses will have to wait for a Flash compatibility treaty to happen.
Big brands will often have many avenues to build brand equity and their bottom line, and I wonder if Google’s banding partnership could have been a touch more subtle, relying on the word of mouth branding machine, i.e “have you seen the Art Project… did you know Google created it?”, to be the main carrier of brand good will. From reading comments of others discussing the merits of Googles involvement, not all feel that Google, the Google brand and the Google morals are in the best interests of the galleries, artworks and the public, and maybe there is a sense of the brand apple cart beginning to wobble. But google has definitely decided that owning the documentation of everything will in the future be of some advantage. Hypothetically, would you pay for Google maps if, all of a sudden, you needed to pay a yearly subscription?
Having said all that, it is hard not to applaud Google for their innovation, technology and allowing a seemingly democratic access to art lovers and haters the world over. This site and the ever expanding collection manages to capture the beauty, detail and context of the artworks and also provides a walking tour of the galleries, which are often a cultural experience in themselves. By and large, however shady, if at all, Googles involvement with the worlds most culturally important artworks has created an amazing collection of art from the world over. It is definitely worth heading over the The Art Project powered by Google and have a look around.
Brand partnerships are a complex arrangement, and more so are brand sponsored and collaboration projects, particularly in an online world, where comments are anonymous. In the coming years we will see which brands handled them well and which ones consumers became suspicious of.