Street View takes you inside museums around the world

Tuesday, February 1, 2011 at 9:05 AM



We’re always excited to share new Street View imagery with users, whether a botanical garden in South Africa or ski slopes in Canada. While Street View has enabled users to visit places all around the world virtually, the demand to show a broader range of popular locations has been great. Today we’re entering new territory with our experiment to take Street View technology indoors.

The Art Project, developed by a group of art-loving Googlers, is a collaboration between Google and 17 of the world’s most acclaimed museums. Select works of art chosen by these partners are now available for you to explore through Street View in Google Maps, and the Art Project site offers an immersive experience to explore museum information, floor plans, more than 1000 high-resolution pieces, and Street View imagery. Learn more about the Art Project on the Official Google Blog.

To take you inside magnificent spaces like the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, our team needed to update the way we go about gathering Street View images.

The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

Street View imagery is typically collected using cars and we’re able to utilize the ample roof space and interior storage of these vehicles for all of our equipment. To take Street View technology indoors, we needed to fit all of the equipment on a much smaller vehicle, a push-cart lovingly dubbed Trolley.

Pictured with Trolley: Daniel Ratner, Mechanical Engineer and Matt Williams, Program Manager at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Trolley is outfitted with a few components that are key to collecting indoor imagery: a panoramic camera to collect 360-degree views, lasers to capture distances to walls, motion sensors to track Trolley’s position, a hard drive to store data, and a laptop to operate the system.

With this adapted equipment, we were able to gather the imagery and bring it into Google Maps, and you can now drag Pegman directly onto museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City to explore their impressive European Paintings wing.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, United States

You can also enter museums when you’re already looking at Street View imagery of the museum exterior. You’ll notice new double-arrow navigation links from the nearby streets leading you inside, as you can see here for the Palace of Versailles.

Palace of Versailles, Versailles, France

Once inside the museum, you can navigate around rooms freely with the navigation arrows or simply click on a distant spot to jump to a closer view. Movement between floors can also be done with ease by selecting a different level from the new control panel below the Street View compass and zoom controls.

Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany

We’re excited to introduce this new imagery in Street View, and will continue to improve and develop this indoor experience. To explore these museums directly through Street View in Google Maps, visit maps.google.com/museums, and to view high-resolution artwork and learn more about the museums, check out the Art Project at www.googleartproject.com.

Posted by Jonathan Siegel, Software Engineer