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On the anniversary of the 1990 theft that is still the world’s most notorious art heist, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum on Tuesday became the first New England museum to use Google’s Street View technology to let viewers navigate their way virtually around its galleries. The collaboration with the Google Cultural Institute allows what it describes as a “complete first-person walk-through experience” of the museum.
Of course, in reality the experience is in no way “complete,” nor is it meaningfully “first-person.” You can’t, as you walk into the Gardner’s famous courtyard, smell the damp ferns, or feel the contrast of warm, humid air and cool stone.
And yet, for anyone curious to know what kind of museum the Gardner is, the new website is a tremendous tool.