The search giant Google has stepped into the cultural arena with two online services. The Cultural Institute "helps preserve and promote culture online." In a similar vein, the Art Project highlights almost 50,000 works of art.
You can browse the Art Project by artist, artwork, or art collection, or search and refine your search results by medium. Details of each work of art are provided, along with links to other works by the same artist. In addition, you can browse partial collections of the participating institutions - an impressive number of renowned institutions worldwide have signed up so far. You can also see the works of art in their current indoor location, much like the Google Maps street view.
The Cultural Institute's site is filled with imagery. You can read background info and original manuscripts, view photos, graphs, and maps, plus watch videos. According to Google, they want to have a "visually rich and interactive online experience
for telling cultural stories in new ways." For example, you can find artifacts and events by era, project (theme, more or less), or Google's collaborative partner. Search results can be refined by source, event, place, person, media, or date, and arranged by relevance or age. A subproject called the World Wonders Project enables the exploration ancient, modern, and natural wonders, like the Great Barrier Reef or Pompei.
We have only begun to play around with both services, but so far we're very impressed with them. Happy exploration!