Jewels of the Prado go under Google Earth's microscope

Roundup: Pop Culture & the Arts ... Movies, Documentaries and Museum Exhibits

No image can match the real thing, but Madrid's Prado museum has edged closer to that ideal by teaming up with Google Earth in a pioneering project that allows art lovers to zoom in on some of the gallery's best loved masterpieces.

Fourteen of the museum's finest works, including Velazquez's Las Meninas, Goya's Third of May and Rubens' The Three Graces have been photographed to such a high resolution that details barely discernible to the naked eye become visible online.

Google's first collaboration of its kind with an art museum, presented yesterday in Madrid, allows viewers anywhere in the world to home in on tiny sections of the chosen works, and skim the canvas in a way that is unimaginable in real life. The images are 1,400 times clearer than anything the average tourist's 10-megapixel camera could render, said Javier Rodriguez Zapatero, Google Spain's director.

"It's a unique vision. In the museum we cannot get this close to a painting; if we did we'd need a three-metre-high ladder to get these views," said Clara Ribera, of Google Spain.

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