There are many different types of traveler. For those who travel to see cultural and artistic works up close and in person, Google just released an app that could change museum visits forever.
The Google Arts & Culture app, launched Tuesday, is an all-encompassing, ultra modern way to explore some of history’s most important cultural sites and iconic works of art.
For those planning to visit a museum while traveling, Arts & Culture will provide information on opening times, current exhibits and directions. Once at the museum, the app works like an artistic Shazam.
By pointing their phone’s camera at a painting or sculpture, users can pull up information about the artwork, including the artist, medium and historical context. So far, this feature is only available in London’s Dulwich Picture Gallery, Sydney’s Art Gallery of New South Wales and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., but Google plans to expand the service to many more museums and galleries in the near future.
But for those who are stuck at home, the app can also provide virtual travel services. It works with Google Cardboard to let users explore important world monuments in 360 degrees. Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal and ancient temples in Sicily are all ready to be explored in virtual reality. The VR tours are available for hundreds of museums, landmarks and heritage sites around the world.
Arts & Culture also gives users high-tech glimpses into some of the most iconic works of art on display today. With data and works from over 1,000 museums, users can zoom into artwork and see individual brushstrokes, search directly for something ridiculously specific like “red abstract expressionist paintings from the 1970s” and even receive brief art history lessons.