Google's AR Pocket Gallery turns your phone into an art museum

You can see Vermeer paintings as if you were standing in front of them.

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AP Photo/Peter Dejong
AP Photo/Peter Dejong

You can certainly view paintings on your phone, but you can't truly recreate the feeling of seeing a masterpiece in museum. Google thinks it can get close, though. The search giant has introduced a Pocket Gallery feature to its Arts & Culture app that uses augmented reality to create virtual art galleries, starting with one dedicated to classic Vermeer paintings (yes, including Girl with a Pearl Earring) curated by The Hague's Mauritshuis museum. Once you choose a room, you can walk up to paintings to both study them in detail and learn more about them. These are the highest-resolution images for eight of these paintings, according to Google

There are also "in painting tours" for each work, and guided tours for special pieces like Girl with a Flute.

The feature is available on both Android and iOS, although you'll need support for ARCore (on Android) or ARKit (on iOS) to give this a try. We've given this a shot, and while it won't quite convey the sense of awe you feel standing in front of a real classic, it's surprisingly close. Look at it this way: it's far less expensive than booking a flight to a physical museum, and you won't have to fight the crowds to get a good view.

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