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Takin’ IT to the Streets: Google Project Preserves Murals, Graffiti

Google's Cultural Institute collects all manner of art and architecture for online viewing — and its most recent project is getting street art off the street and into your browser.

Between murals, graffiti and random "guerrilla art," the walls and abandoned buildings of the world are a rich canvas for artists who can't (or don't want to) put their work in a gallery.

But such installations and spontaneous compositions are often prey to weather, removal if illegal, or (ironically) vandalism. And, of course, while a painting or even a large sculpture may be moved to a nearby museum, it's rather hard to pick up a whole parking garage or retaining wall and store it for convenient viewing.

So Google is working with street art creators and curators all over the world to document and preserve these unique and immovable art exhibits. So far they have about 100 collections, totaling over 5,000 images.

Some are simple snapshots of the artwork, while others are interactive: Fancy walking through nine floors of art painted on the walls of a condemned building, long since demolished? The Paris 13 tower is all there on Street View.

The official teams aren't going around capturing every tag and sketch, though, so if you want your local color to be represented, you might want to add your own gallery to the mix by following the link at the top right of the Street Art page.