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Google Unveils a Curated Treasure Trove of Street Art

Alyssa Bereznak
National Correspondent, Technology
June 10, 2014

Regg and Violant, Centro Comercial Alegro, Setúbal, Galeria de Arte Urbana.

Google’s latest attempt to cement the physical world in the digital is all about urban art. 

The company released a collection of 5,000 images of street art from around the world Tuesday morning, all searchable via Google Maps, as part of a new initiative called Google Art Project.

Per Google’s blog post

"The transient nature of street art means it can be at risk of being scrubbed out and lost forever to its legions of fans. But long after the paint has faded from the walls, technology can help preserve street art, so people can discover it wherever and whenever they like."

The new project features interactive slideshows of wall murals and other public work from several different countries, including neighborhoods in London, Atlanta, New York City, Paris, Lodz, and San Miguel. You can choose to search by exhibit, location, or simply click through a Pinterest-like display of murals. Artists can even submit their own work with personal commentary.

In many instances, the gallery acts as a place for artistic work in urban locations to be preserved, long after they’ve been erased by neighborhood renovation, or painted over by building owners.

Take, for instance, 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center, Inc. a building in Long Island City, Queens, that stood as a beacon for local graffiti artists for over a decade. In November 2013, its owner whitewashed the walls, and its rich cultural history was essentially erased. Google worked with the building’s main curator to preserve the last five years of artwork found on the walls of the building, along with first-hand stories from people who spent time there. They offered a similar treatment to the now-defunct Tour Paris 13 in France.

Below, a few highlights from the collection. Make sure to explore for yourself here as well. This is one Internet wormhole you’ll definitely want to fall down.

Street art in San Paolo by Zezao.

Etching in Shanghai by Vhils.

Gyun Hur’s first mural “Strange Boxes Flooded,” in Atlanta Georgia.

Belgian artist Rao’s wall mural in Lodz, Poland.

U.S. artist GAIA y NANOOK’s work in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Rua Chão do Loureiro, Lisbon.

Follow Alyssa Bereznak on Twitter or email her here.