This is awesome. I’ve yet to get my head round how to navigate the thing but it looks and feels great. The idea is that museums get involved with the project and Google presents their collections online in virtual tours with physical and contextual information. The sheer scale of the content available makes the project very addictive, it’s difficult to stop moving through to the next piece or collection. Users can create their own collections, here’s one of mine http://www.googleartproject.com/galleries/28308264/28334598/update/ ,this will of course require a Google login.
As you’d expect from Google the functionality is flawless and some of the content comes with incredible resolution. Interestingly the project emerged as part of Google’s “20-percent time” policy, where developers and programmers get to spend 20% of their time on a project of interest, the idea being that the work will come full circle and end up paying back, which in this case it has. We toyed with the idea of a “20-percent time” policy in my last role but without Google’s resources (not to mention the talent!) it just wasn’t practical.