Today, Google Open Gallery was released to the public as part of the company's Cultural Institute, allowing anyone with "cultural content" — whether vintage artwork or historical documents — to create online exhibitions. Google's been working with museums worldwide for the past few years to make those collections available on the Cultural Institute. Now, according to a Google blog post, Open Gallery is available to anyone who wants to organize and publish an exhibition.

All of Open Gallery's power is free

Of course, there's still an element of Google-filtered curation, as any individual, museum, or organization must request an invite to Open Gallery before being able to use it. Once past the gatekeeper, all of Open Gallery's power is free—users just upload, organize, and customize. There are options to add not only images, but also video, text, and Street View imagery. The online exhibitions, which all feature the culturalspot.org domain, also have a bar at the top that can link back to the curator or parent organization.

Despite looking like the love child of Flickr and Behance, Open Gallery does have a clean, put-together feel. Exhibitions from museums like the Belgium Comic Strip Center and the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery make good use of Open Gallery's full-screen introductory image and a powerful zoom tool that zeroes in on details of intricate illustrations or vintage photos. Google says it will add new features to Open Gallery as time goes on.

In addition, Google announced the opening of the Lab at the Cultural Institute, a physical space in its Parisian office where the company will "discuss, debate, and explore" new ideas for products and services for museums such as 3D scanners, million pixel cameras, and interactive screens.