Lonely Planet Writer

How to see all of Vermeer's work for free in one place

The entire works of Johannes Vermeer (1632-75) can now be viewed in a virtual museum thanks to a collaborative project between Google Arts & Culture and the museums and private collections around the world that house the great Dutch Master’s work.

Vermeer's work can be viewed online with Google Arts
Johanne Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’. Image part of the Mauritshuis collection, The Hague.

Vermeer, whose paintings captured the ordinary beauty of Dutch middle-class domestic life, was not a prolific artist. Just 36 paintings are attributed to him, including one of the most famous paintings in the world: Girl With A Pearl Earring. Those works are housed in 18 locations across seven countries and most are too fragile to travel, meaning they have to stay where they are indefinitely. Anyone who wished to see the Delft artist’s work had to travel to museums and galleries in locations such as New York, Paris, London, and The Hague.

Now thanks to Google Arts & Culture, Vermeer’s work can be viewed in one place. The tech company has launched an augmented-reality app that creates a virtual museum featuring all of Vermeer’s works through high-resolution scans and other fun features such as an Instagram colouring book where you can “share your own Vermeer classic,” YouTube videos where actors bring the artist’s legacy to the screen, painting tours and guided insights. High-resolution digital image files of Vermeer’s work were provided to the project by the 18 museums and private collections around the world that house his work.

Opening the app and camera will display a virtual seven-room exhibition space that you can tap to enter with the ability to drag, pinch, and resize to move around. As Google notes, “The Art Camera – our ultra-high resolution robotic camera made specifically for artworks – was deployed to several galleries around the world, creating the highest-ever resolution image of eight of Vermeer’s masterpieces for your zooming pleasure.”

The free app will be accessible to anyone with a camera-equipped smartphone. See here for more details.