By Tommy Palladino
After debuting its virtual Pocket Gallery last year with the works of Johannes Vermeer, Google Arts & Culture has released a sequel that brings even more artists into your home via augmented reality.
Available in the Google Arts & Culture app for iOS and Android, “The Art of Color” features 33 famous paintings from around the world organized into wings by color palette, with Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh among the featured artists.
Like the Vermeer gallery, users can anchor a miniature version of the virtual gallery in their physical environment via ARKit or ARCore.
To access “The Art of Color” feature, first open the app, then click on the camera icon button located at the bottom of the app. The next menu will show you a menu including the Pocket Galley option. Once you click on the Pocket Gallery menu option you’ll be prompted to look find a well-lit surface upon which to place the virtual gallery.
Once that tracking is done, you can then tap on the “Art of Color” icon, located at the bottom of the screen, and download the new feature. When that’s done, just tap the Enter button and you’ll be immersed in a virtual gallery in your real world location. The experience almost becomes a VR experience, except users can still see the real world through the exit doors of the gallery.
Once immersed in the gallery, users can walk around the virtual halls to view works of art more closely or double-tap to transport themselves to various wings of the digital museum. Also, tapping on a painting brings up a card with more information on the piece.
“One of the goals of the Google Arts & Culture team is to find new or unexpected ways to bring people closer to art. From renowned masterpieces to hidden gems, ‘The Art of Color’ brings together artworks like Georgia O’Keeffe’s ‘Red Cannas’ and Amrita Sher-Gil’s ‘Mother India’ or Hokusai’s ‘South Wind, Clear Dawn,'” said Andy Joslin, design lead for Google Arts & Culture, in a blog post.
While Google has begun using augmented reality in many of its existing products, like Google Maps and Google Search, its seems like the Google Arts & Culture team has gone “all in” on AR, so much so that they’ve consolidated all of the AR tools under the Camera tab in the app.
In recent years, the Google Arts & Culture initiative has been best known for its VR experiments, but augmented reality is increasingly front and center for the team, including an Art Projector tool that brings life-sized individual works of art into the user’s personal space.
Outside of its mobile app, the team has also partnered with other organizations to tell their stories in augmented reality. For example, the team assisted CERN in using AR to explore the Big Bang. The Google team also spearheaded the Notable Women project, which featured an experience that used AR to digitally insert historically famous women into real currency.
Despite these wide ranging uses, it appears that showing off art in AR through a mobile app is becoming one of Google’s favorite palettes for immersive experimentation. And, until teleportation becomes a thing, it’s the only way to see the world’s most famous works of art in one space.