Pictures at the Prado Museum Google-style

By Mark Everett Hall
January 16, 2009 9:00 AM EST
Google Earth continues to astound me. The latest mind-blowing experience comes in the form of an extremely high-resolution tour of a dozen priceless paintings in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain, one of the greatest museums in the world.

To "visit" these great works, launch the latest version of Google Earth, turn on the Layers 3D Buildings filter, then navigate to the Prado and click on the building. Up pops thumbnail photos of 14 treasured European paintings, including Goya's The 3rd of May 1808, a milestone in painting, Rubens' gorgeous The Three Graces and Bosch's phantasmagoric masterpiece, The Garden of Earthly Delights.

Click on the link that says "browse this picture in ultra high resolution" and be prepared to be amazed. The program whisks you into the Prado and brings up the picture on your screen. Use the normal Google Earth cotrols in the upper right to zoom in and around each work of art. The crystal-clear detail of each painting is jaw-dropping. You could spend an entire weekend studying the myriad of characters in Bosch's work alone. If you visited the Prado, you could not see this kind of detail.

I salute the folks at Google and the museum directors at the Prado who have had the foresight and the imagination to bring wonderful art in a brilliant fashion to everyone's computer screen. I can only hope that this will be just the first of many such endeavors.