The Google Art Project spent months mapping the Israel Museum with cameras mounted atop bicycles and photographing 520 objects, artifacts and artwork from the Museum’s collection. The outcome is an online compilation of high-resolution images accessible over the Internet and a virtual tour of the museum using Google’s Street technology. The Israel Museum was among 151 museums in 40 countries taking part in the second phase of the project. Currently more than 30,000 high-resolution objects from museums around the world are available for viewing and items can be found by various keywords, location, artist, collections, etc.
Archaeological items included are the only dedicatory inscription mentioning Pontius Pilate, the procurator of Judea in the time of Jesus found at Caesarea, the oldest Biblical text, Priestly Blessing from Numbers 6:23 on silver amulet found in tomb at Ketef Hinnom in Jerusalem (you can read my blog post at http://israeltours.wordpress.com/2011/03/16/ketef-hinnom-silver-amulet/ ) and Theodotus synagogue inscription in Greek found near the Temple Mount. There is also artwork, for example, the triptych Gates of Jerusalem by Mordecai Ardon (you can read my blog post on the Ardon Windows at http://israeltours.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/ardon-windows-isaiah-vision-peace/).
The Google Art Project creates images larger than 1 billion pixels in size, the zoom-in feature allows viewers to get inside cracks in the parchment and other details that are not visible to the naked eye – a really fascinating collection of treasures worth exploring. Kudos to the Israel Museum for making these images available.
The project follows last year’s collaboration with Google to make the famed Dead Sea Scrolls accessible in high resolution on the Internet. When announced the site drew a million viewers within the first few days. Five of the Scrolls, including the Great Isaiah Scroll 1QIsaa one of the original seven Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in Qumran in 1947 are viewable at http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/isaiah.
Google has also partnered with Israel’s Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, to make its photographs and documents searchable on the Internet.
“Mendel takes out his camera. No more flowers, clouds, natures, stills or landscapes. Amid the horror all around him he has found his destiny: to photograph and leave behind a testimony for all generations about the great tragedy unfolding before his eyes.”
Mendel Grossman’s photos constitute a small portion of the historical photos in Yad Vashem’s collection. The project will facilitate preservation of and access to the world’s largest historical collection on the Holocaust. Google implemented experimental optical character recognition (OCR) technology to carry out this project, making previously difficult to locate documents now searchable and discoverable online. As of today, 130,000 photos from Yad Vashem’s archive, the largest of its kind in the world, are viewable in full resolution online. The collections are visible at http://collections.yadvashem.org/photosarchive/en-us/photos.html. This is a first step towards bringing the vast Yad Vashem archive online over time.
Yad Vashem has also launched a YouTube channel to showcase a series of videos of Holocaust survivor testimonials. The YouTube channel is available at www.youtube.com/yadvashem. There is also a YouTube channel with more than 400 hours of original video footage from the landmark 1961 Jerusalem trial of Nazi mastermind Adolf Eichmann at http://www.youtube.com/user/EichmannTrialEN.
If you know of other technology projects that are being developed in Israel please share by leaving a comment about them. If you peruse the images leave a comment here of your impression.