A cynics take on Google's new gallery initiative (image by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

A cynic’s take on Google’s new Open Gallery initiative (image by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

Today, Google launched Google Open Gallery, which opens its online exhibition tools to any artist, museum, archive, or gallery.

It’s currently invite only, which isn’t exactly “open” in our book, although you can peruse some initial launch examples to check out what an Open Gallery might look like for your project. Open Gallery is part of Google Cultural Institute’s Art Project, which has been collaborating with museums and galleries for online exhibitions like a digital exploration of the transformation of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris from train station to museum, and street art from the walls of São Paulo, Brazil.

Arthur Nieuwenhuijs' work on Google Open Gallery (all screenshots by the author)

Arthur Nieuwenhuijs’ work on Google Open Gallery (all screenshots by the author for Hyperallergic)

However, as rarely is anything really free, it’s likely there may be some form of advertising or maybe some form of future charges for data storage, especially if they are targeting galleries and individuals as a way to integrate the interface into existing sites. (For example, Google Apps started as free for businesses, and then later charged.) You’re also further plunging into a Google-centric online universe, if monopolies make you nervous, and likely more content for them to sell ads against.

Page for the "Nimbus Series" on Google Open Gallery

Page for the “Nimbus Series” on Google Open Gallery

The initial Google Open Gallery projects show the same smooth interface and focus on high resolution images as the Cultural Institute Art Projects. For example, trying out the page for Berndnaut Smilde’s Nimbus Series presented by Ronchini Gallery lets you delve right into the beautiful clouds flowing through empty rooms with sharp detail and even the sporadic video. Yet what’s more exciting are projects like that for the Belgian Comic Strip Center, that brings the offerings of a cultural institution’s collection vividly online to an audience who might never make it to the museum with a level of interaction that makes it feel a step above a slideshow.

YouTube video

As the Next Web reports, the launch also coincides with the opening of the Lab@the Cultural Institute in Paris, an actual non-digital realm for experimenting with new technology and collaborating with museums to improve future digital exhibitions. While not all of Google’s new initiatives have been a success (RIP Google Buzz), the Institute along with the greater access of Open Gallery has the potential for some greater offerings of online exhibitions from smaller institutions that wouldn’t have the resources for such an initiative on their own.

In other Google-related art news, the Mountain View tech giant is, along with Accenture, NVIDIA, DAQRI, and SpaceX, collaborating with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to launch the museum’s new Art + Technology Lab.

Click here to view Google Open Gallery and apply for an invitation. 

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Allison Meier

Allison C. Meier is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Oklahoma, she has been covering visual culture and overlooked history for print...

4 replies on “Google Opens Its Online Exhibition Interface to All”

  1. “Open” means anyone can use it. “Invite” means they let a few in at a time to make sure it works correctly (for reference: healthcare.org). Almost all developers do this and it doesn’t make it any less “open.” I’m not apologizing for Google, but they actually do provide plenty of services with little or no advertising or charges. That would impede their ability to collect data about you….

      1. Cynicism? I don’t know. But I’m really just responding to the inference that by asking for invites Google is being less than open. Perhaps they are being less than open by requiring a Google account to use the project, but that’s besides the point.

        As for the NSA, as you know, what Google collects, how they collect it, and what power you have to stop them, is a far cry from what the NSA is up to.

        For me, disembodied art museums are a greater cause for concern than Google knowing what artworks I like, or whatever else their database knows about me. For now, at least.

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