Google has announced a unique collaboration with 17 of the most acclaimed museums around the world under its Art Project which will enable 360 degree tours of individual galleries in these museums using Street View 'indoor' technology.

Art lovers across the world will now be able to view and explore thousands of famous artwork on display in museums such as Altes Nationalgalerie, The Freer Gallery of Art Smithsonian, National Gallery (London), The Frick Collection, Gemäldegalerie, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Van Gogh Museum among others, from wherever they may be in the world. Currently, the collection comprises work by 486 different artists and affords access to 385 gallery rooms in the 17 museums.

Users can view the various works of art - ranging from Botticelli's Birth of Venus to Cezanne's post- impressionist works, and from the ceilings of Versailles to the temples of Egypt - on the portal www.googleartproject.com  and even find out more about these on the info panel. The panel allows people to read more about an artwork, find more works by the artist and even watch related YouTube videos.

Among the 1000 plus works, the virtual gallery will also include one artwork from each of the partner museums which have been captured in extraordinary detail. These super-high resolution images contain seven billion pixels each and would unveil details of the brushwork and patina that may be difficult to capture with the naked eye.

As one report in The Washington Post explains, users of Google Art will be able to see the faintest tracery of white paint with which the artist has made his subject's eyes glisten, as well as the nubbly, grid-like texture of the canvass underneath.

Announcing the launch of the portal, Nelson Mattos, VP Engineering at Google, said We're delighted to have been able to collaborate with leading art museums around the world to create this state of the art technology. We hope it will inspire ever more people, wherever they live, to access and explore art - in new and amazing levels of detail.