No need to drive to Richmond to see some of its finest pieces. The Google Art Camera does the traveling for you.



The Tibetan “Wheel of Life” at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is an exquisite watercolor on cloth. It depicts a menacing red demon clutching the human circle of life, death and rebirth in its claws.

Too bad it isn’t on display.

The delicate piece was created around 1800 and can be shown only for brief periods and always under protective glass.

Now, through a collaboration between the Richmond museum and Google, people can see “Wheel of Life” online, anytime, and at a resolution high enough to reveal details not seen before without a magnifying glass (

The VMFA has joined other cultural institutions around the world in the Google Art Camera project, which allows Google’s robotic camera to take up to hundreds of photos of one image, piece them together, and create images of more than a billion pixels.

With “Wheel of Life,” viewers can zoom in and study the anguished faces of tortured souls and the weave of the fabric on which the work is painted. They can note that flecks of paint are missing from Buddha’s gold robe.

VMFA has 42 pieces in the project; the site has more than 1,760 images from museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Musee d’Orsay in Paris and the British Museum in London.

The Richmond venue partnered with Google a year ago. Google started its nonprofit Cultural Institute in 2011 to create a platform for organizations to showcase their works, making them accessible to people who can’t fly to Paris or drive to Richmond. VMFA has more than 200 images on the Google site.

Several programs fall under the Cultural Institute umbrella, including Art Camera and Google Museum Views, which creates virtual tours of locations, such as the stone city Machu Picchu in Peru. VMFA is also exploring joining the museum views system.

Travis Fullerton, VMFA’s chief collections photographer and manager of the imaging resources department, said the museum quickly applied when Google launched the Art Camera system.

“The museum has been looking for as many opportunities as possible to share its collection, and Google is a great vehicle for obvious reasons – it’s Google,” Fullerton said.

Each museum would have access to the camera and its crew for a few days, and only certain works were eligible. The pieces had to be two-dimensional, of a certain size, and free of copyright limitations. Fullerton sent out a note to the museum’s curators, who submitted lists of pieces they thought should be considered. Almost all of the collections are represented, Fullerton said.

According to Google’s Art Camera blog, the robotic camera is equipped with a laser and a sonar that uses high frequency sound – like a bat – to measure the distance of the artwork. It moves automatically from detail to detail and can take hundreds of close-ups of that are fitted together like a puzzle.

“The Art Camera will dramatically increase the scale and depth at which museums are able to provide access to our shared cultural heritage to anyone around the world,” the blog states. “For example, if you wanted to see Van Gogh’s six famous portraits of the Roulin family up close, you’d need to travel across the Netherlands then over to LA and New York. Now the Art Camera can travel for you.”

In Richmond, Fullerton said he was amazed at the never-before-seen details that popped out with the images.

“One of the curators came down to see what he had selected, and he was just floored,” Fullerton said. “There is this whiz-bang feeling. It is really neat.”

Denise M. Watson, 757-446-2504,

For all your picture framing and art needs contact FrameWorxArt or call (757) 491-0098

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Custom Picture Framing: The Best Way to Show Your Love of Art

Show your love for art by framing it. Framed artwork allows you to showcase and preserve it for years to come. Custom picture framing is the best way to go: Nothing beats the look, protection, and personal touch of having your beloved art framed by a professional custom picture framer.

Every piece of art, as well as treasured photos and memorabilia, deserves to have a unique, well-designed frame with high quality materials, craftsmanship and appropriate techniques. This can only be performed by an experienced picture framing expert.

Why go through the trouble of hiring a professional picture framer when you can buy a photo frame or ready-made frame from a craft or department store?  Professional custom picture framing services don't just produce any frame; they create a design based on your individual taste. This means that you are able to enjoy a personalized picture frame package that can't be found or assembled in big box stores. You get to choose the materials and colors as well as the layout of the frame. You can rely on your framer's design and framing experience in helping guide your selections to come up with a satisfying result you can enjoy for years.

Framing is an extension of your art -and your taste. Picture framing, along with the use of acid-free conservation materials, will preserve your picture and ensure that it stays in good condition over an extended period. In addition to protecting your picture collection, custom picture frames also enrich the appearance of your artwork.

Frames are vital when it comes to creating a first impression. You might have fantastic art but if it's in a frame that doesn't suit the art style or clashes with your decor it can end up spoiling the whole effect. Custom picture frames come in many different materials and styles. A professional framer with experience can guide you to the end product that will make all the difference.

Unless a frame shop has been recommended or advertised, you may search the internet for a respected gallery or professional framing business. Use caution when doing this, especially if the item you'd like to frame is of any value to you.

Tips to consider before you hire a custom picture framing service in Virginia Beach - or anywhere:
1.  Your Style.  Do you prefer traditional, modern or eclectic décor? Are you drawn to ornate or simple designs? Which colors are your favorite? Artwork can be properly framed in such a variety of ways. By thinking about YOUR personal preferences, you won't be overwhelmed with today's unlimited framing options.

2. Glazing.  Works on paper need protection from damaging UV light and its environment. If your framing application requires glazing, consider the glass quality and the types of glass available to protect your art and enhance your design. Conservation glass or acrylic glazing is highly recommended.

3. Matting.  Did you know that matboard borders came about to prevent framed treasures from touching the glass? A mat provides the necessary space between the art paper surface and glazing to protect art on paper and photos. Now mats are used for decorative purposes as well. There are many types of matboard for all different applications. Matting can also be used to enhance the colors in the artwork that you want to emphasize, or give your art image a bit of visual "breathing room" when a frame alone would look too small or "closed in".

4. Mounting board.  If your art requires mounting, It's recommended that you use a mount board that is protective, or at least neutral to your art. Some mounting boards can actively harm your pictures with acid and out-gassing.

5. Budget.  It would be wise to disclose your intended budget limits before starting to choose a design because that can rule out choices which could extend beyond what you're willing to spend. This allows your frame designer to present framing options which protect your artwork, fit your budget and make it look fabulous! {Ok, maybe your idea of "fabulous" is too pricey for the moment. A professional, skilled framer will offer options that protect and make your artwork shine.}

5 Star picture framing Virginia Beach  In addition to the finest custom picture framing services you'll find, FrameWorx offers a wide variety of fine art selections which feature original artwork by up-and-coming to renown artists from around the world.

Contact us 757-647-6060 for a personal consultation.

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