With Feet for Eyes

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The Times looks at Art Project, an attempt by google to offer virtual tours of some of the world's greatest collections:


The Art Project has been hailed as a great leap forward in terms of the online art experience, which seems debatable, since most museums have spent at least the last decade -- and quite a bit of money -- developing Web access to works in their collections. On the site of the National Gallery, for example, you can examine the lush surface of Velázquez's "Rokeby Venus" with a zoom similar to the Art Project's. Still, Google offers a distinct and extraordinary benefit in its United Nations-like gathering of different collections under one technological umbrella, enabling easy online travel among them. 

When you view a work by one artist at one museum, clicking on the link "More works by this artist" will produce a list of all the others in the Art Project system. But some fine-tuning is needed here. Sometimes the link is missing, and sometimes it links only to other works in that museum. Other tweaks to consider: including the dates of the works on all pull-down lists, and providing measurements in inches as well as centimeters.

I found the interface rather clunky frustrating, but even leaving that aside, I don't have much desire to see a museum through a computer monitor. I'm certainly not a luddite. But I love to wander, and I love the visceral physicality of being lost that I good museum offers. Surely I would love to see Versailles. But I'd like to do it with my feet.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. More

Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.

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