Holy shit this is so fucking cool! Sorry for the profanity but I just came across 'Art Project' by Google and it blew me away. Google has been going to museums all over the world and essentially giving them their 'street view' treatment. You can explore the Met in New York (one of my favorite things to do whenever I'm there), trip out in the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam or stroll through the Palace of Versailles in France. It really is phenomenal.
Not only that, but it is full of other cool features. You can navigate by floor plan or just by clicking through the space like a giant game of Myst. You can create your own dream gallery of all your favorite pieces, watch videos about the works and read information about everything you see. Not only that but there are high resolution images of all the paintings which allow you to zoom so far in that you can see the cracks and brush strokes as if you were standing in front of the paintings in real life, with a magnifying glass in hand. It's so cool!
This is the type of thing that reminds my how absolutely silly my degree in art history was. Spend a few hours on this site and you will get more than I got out of any class. Actually traveling to the museums and seeing these things for real is unbeatable and irreplaceable, but this is certainly the next best thing we can do now.
It's also a great tool to learn about a museum before you go and to learn about the art after. I have gone to museums many times and found a piece that I adore. I try and remember the name of the artist, but by the end of a long excursion it usually has evaporated from my mind. These days I always have my phone on me and can take notes (I was never responsible about always having a notebook on me at all times) but this is still a great way to go back through your visit.
I learned about this through a TED talk I watched earlier today. You can check it out below.
I really hope they keep this going. It really is an invaluable resource. They have about 15 museums already but there are many more that I can't wait to see, both on the site and in person. Now go! Get down with your artistic self!