Today is World Art Day and it's around two years since we launched Google Art Project. In honour of this and all our partners, large and small, traditional and modern, let’s take a quick look at how people are interacting with art online.

The Internet brings paintings to life and it seems that The Starry Night by van Gogh is the one that visitors to Art Project admire the most. In the past six months, this was the most viewed painting in gigapixel—an extremely high resolution painting which allows viewers to zoom in to brushstroke level. While nothing beats seeing a painting in real life, the ability to examine a work of art in this level of detail seems to be encouraging viewers to linger. One minute is the average time spent looking at any given painting on the Art Project website, compared to under 20 seconds (according to several studies) in a museum.

The Starry Night is also the most frequently included painting in user galleries, where individuals create and share their own virtual art collections. We have 40,000 works of art on the platform but some remain perennial favourites. The other most popular inclusions in user galleries (in order) are :

The Starry Night on Art Project

Viewings of user galleries were in fact higher than any individual artist or painting. To date, 360,000 galleries have been created, 14,000 of which are public on the web. To mark World Art Day, we asked some of our partners to curate user galleries of their own. Take a look through the selections of eight museum directors here.

Given the list above, it’s clear the classics remain popular with viewers, but there is increasing interest in modern art as well, with Dali and Klimt featuring among the most searched for artists. The Internet has also allowed users to explore multiple genres in a single destination. More than 30 different mediums co-exist on Art Project with oil on canvas next to over 5,000 objects including silk textiles, sculptures and furniture. There can't be many places where you can find Brazilian street art alongside Botticelli.

Many partners who have contributed an art collection have also opted to put their museums on Street View. On average, visitors spend around two minutes exploring the interior of the buildings and viewing the paintings on display. The most-visited Street View destination on Art Project is The White House. As the majority of us will never get the opportunity to go inside, the Internet allows a rare glimpse into a global institution that also houses an extensive art collection.

With over 200 partners from 43 countries, we continue our quest to open up access to art to millions of professionals, students, beginners and amateur enthusiasts. At 1pm ET today, we’ll be holding the latest in our Art Talks series on our G+ page, which aims to put art lovers in touch with art experts online. Sign up here to hangout with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to chat about multimedia in the arts from the comfort of your armchair on World Art Day.