Using the same technology as it uses for "street view" in Google Maps, Google has been allowing virtual visitors into a series of art museums for over a year now. Google calls it "The Art Project", and writes:
The Art Project is a collaboration between Google and some of the world's most acclaimed art museums. Powered by a broad, connected suite of Google technologies, the world's great works of art and museums are now within reach to an unprecedented global audience.In vicariously travelling through a few museum galleries today, my experience has unfortunately been more of frustration than wonder. There seem to be large numbers of art works that I am NOT actually allowed to get near to, and many galleries are completely blanked out - in the same way that Google blanks out licence plates when photographing streets. The approved mode of use for The Art Project is apparently to focus on the specially profiled art works, while wandering the galleries gives the visitor a feeling of the exhibition rather than total access.
Blank areas in the galleries of course make The Art Project an excellent example of how complicated intellectual property rights can be in museums. Who's permission is needed in order to be allowed to show which pieces? But the general idea of the project is great. Perhaps I should try to appreciate endeavours for what they are, and not for what they aren't?