The Google Art Project Welcomes You to the White House

Ever wanted to take a tour of the White House? Well now you have a chance, and you can do it all from the comfort of your living room. The Google Art Project, a site devoted to presenting high resolution photographs of hundreds of works of art and museum tours from some of the finest museums in the world, including the Palace of Versailles, the Van Gogh Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has unveiled its latest project, a captivating look inside the world’s most famous residence, the White House.

As part of what the White House calls its “commitment to opening the doors of the White House to all Americans,” the site primarily does two things. First, it presents images of dozens of paintings and works in art in stunning high resolution quality; and secondly, my favorite part, it offers a 360-degree view of many of the “public” areas of the White House, giving you your own personal tour!

The White House is the latest location added to Google’s Art Project website, which has steadily grown in recent months by adding some of the top museums in the world to its collection. It really is a site to behold and a must visit for arts lovers everywhere; by taking some of the world’s best collections and putting them online free of charge for the world to see, it really does represent one of the best ways to merge technology with the arts to generate enthusiasm and excitement for the stunning works of art that are now viewable in all their high definition glory.

For the paintings and works of art themselves, Google features what they call a “gigapixel” camera that offers an extremely high resolution look at some of the most famous paintings in the White House collection, including Gilbert Stuart’s famous portrait of George Washington. Viewers can zoom in and examine the paintings in EXTREMELY close detail, all the way down to the brushstrokes, just as you would if you were to view them in person, right?

You’ll find hundreds of paintings, sculptures, pieces of furniture, and more available for view. You’ll also find a portrait of almost every former president as well. Some of my favorite presidential portraits, which I have seen before on either book covers, in print or elsewhere, were immediately noticeable and fascinating to view up close and in so much detail. Some of my favorites include Aaron Shikler’s portrait of John F. Kennedy, John Singer Sargent’s portrait of Teddy Roosevelt, George P.A. Healy’s portrait of a sitting Abraham Lincoln, and last by not least, John Trumbull's portrait of my favorite founding father, Alexander Hamilton.

The coolest part of the site however, if you’re like me, is the virtual tour. In recent months, Google has made headlines by starting to take their Street View cameras indoors to start photographing businesses and places of interest to add to its Google Maps site. What Google has done here is to take those Street View cameras inside the White House and presented a “museum view” of the public spaces inside. Here is where you can walk around and give yourself a tour of two floors of the White House, seeing sights like the East Room (where indoor press conferences are usually held) and the China Room, where presidential china collections dating back to the 18th century are held.

Not everyone will have the chance to visit Washington and take the White House tour (which is a hard ticket to come by, and even if you can get on the list, usually requires a several months long wait), but thanks to Google, we now have the next best thing, viewing many of the sights you would see on a tour on your computer screen.

This may be one of the few things everyone can agree on when it comes to the White House: having an opportunity to view the magnificent works of art from the White House collection in such high resolution is a welcome treat, and worthy of praise. I encourage everyone to check out the site and go exploring!