Google's Art Camera lets you shove your face in a Monet (kind of)

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The Google Art Camera will be deployed in museums across the globe to capture gigapixel images of famous art.

Screenshot by Lynn La/CNET

Instead of risking a scolding from a museum docent telling you to step away, you can now get a closeup look at several famous paintings, thanks to Google's Art Camera initiative.

To celebrate International Museum Day (which takes place May 18), the Google Cultural Institute is sending a bunch of ultrahigh-resolution cameras, which can take "gigapixel images," to several museums around the world to capture famous pieces of art.

A gigapixel image (that is, a digital image that contains over 1 billion pixels) is nothing new, and Google has already shared about 200 gigapixel images before today. But because of the development of these specialized Art Cameras, the process of capturing a gigapixel image is much faster and easier.

Up close with the "Port of Rotterdam" by Paul Signac.

The Art Camera uses a laser and sonar to capture close-up images of paintings, piece by piece. It then stitches these images together to deliver a single, superdetailed photo that you can view online, up close and zoomed in.

In an email to CNET, Google said that the company is "excited about all the pieces we've digitized so far, and we're thrilled people will get to use this technology to explore artworks like never before."

Google released the first 1,000 artworks from this initiative, which include paintings from Rembrandt and Pissarro. You can check out every brush stroke and glob of paint at Google's Art Camera portal.


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