Did you know there was Belgian Comic Strip Center? It’s a museum of sorts, dedicated to the preservation and education regarding Belgian comic strips. Did you know the Smurfs originated in Belgium? Neither did we, making Google’s introduction of the Open Gallery all that much more interesting.

The project is part of Google’s Cultural Institute, and allows anyone with “cultural content” — artwork, historical documents, etc. — a chance to open virtual gallery of sorts. You simply upload your collection, organize it as you see fit, and let the world enjoy it. Aside from actually being in a gallery, it’s about as good a representation as we’ll get.

It’s not open to anyone — as you’ll have to request an invitation from Google first — but anyone with something of importance to offer can let the world see their collection. It’s also completely free to use, both for onlookers and up loaders alike. Those curators can also upload text, video (for an introduction or explanation of the piece), or Street View images for comparisons to old photos of cities or other radically changed areas.

We liken it to Flickr, except — you know — cultured. It takes full advantage of Google’s photo viewing tools, allowing us to zoom in to view subtle details in an image. Google notes is as a great way to enhance a currently existing site, or start a new one. We like it for the opportunity it gives everyone with an internet connection the chance to see truly amazing pieces of art, or sensitive historical documents they may not otherwise get the chance to see.