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Israel Museum's collection goes online with Google's help

    The Israel Museum
    The Israel Museum

    Culture and history enthusiasts can browse the vast collection of art and artefacts at the Israel Museum – without leaving the comfort of their sofa.

    The Google Art Project brings together the collections of museums and galleries around the world for internet users to explore virtually.

    Alongside the Renaissance paintings of Florence's Uffizi gallery or Van Gogh's masterpieces in their Amsterdam home, users can now study treasures, from the Bronze Medallion of Titus to the interior of the 18th-century Italian Vittorio Veneto Synagogue.

    Among the 520 pieces now available online are paintings featuring scenes of life in Jerusalem, relics from the Roman era and ancient biblical texts.

    The Google Art project was launched in February 2011, showcasing objects from 17 sites. As of yesterday, its collection has expanded to feature 151 collections from around the globe, from Canada to Brazil and Australia.

    In total, Google has now logged 30,000 high-resolution images of pieces which can be zoomed in on, and in some cases the software also allows virtual tours of the galleries.

    It is the latest stage in efforts by Google and other organisations to make items of historical interest available digitally. Documents from Israel's Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem, can be browsed online, while the Dead Sea Scrolls can be seen up close thanks to a Google collaboration unveiled last year.

    James Snyder, director of the Israel Museum, said it would help tourists plan their trips. But he added that it would also help "take the experience of our Israel Museum worldwide.

    "We can give people far away who will never get here a chance, palpably, to feel what this place is about," he said.

    "The resolution of these images…allows art lovers to discover minute aspects of paintings and other objects they may never have seen up close," said Google Israel's Yossi Matias.

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