Tag Archives: Arts & Culture

Exploring art (through selfies) with Google Arts & Culture

The Google Arts & Culture platform hosts millions of artifacts and pieces of art, ranging from prehistory to the contemporary, shared by museums across the world. But the prospect of exploring all that art can be daunting. To make it easier, we dreamt up a fun solution: connect people to art by way of a fundamental artistic pursuit, the search for the self … or, in this case, the selfie.

We created an experiment that matches your selfie with art from the collections of museums on Google Arts & Culture—and over the past few days, people have taken more than 30 million selfies. Even if your art look-alike is a surprise, we hope you discover something new in the process. (By the way, Google doesn't use your selfie for anything else and only keeps it for the time it takes to search for matches.)

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That’s me, Michelle, the product manager for this feature!

We're so happy people are enjoying their selfie matches, but we're even happier that people haven't stopped with the selfie. They’ve jumped—face first—into the 6,000 exhibitions hosted on Google Arts & Culture, from more than 1,500 museum partners from 70 countries, to explore their artwork and learn about their stories.


Here are some of the most-visited works of art people explored while searching with their selfies:

And we hope you’ll keep exploring. There’s so much to see on Google Arts & Culture, from the annals of American Democracy and the rich history of Latino cultures in the U.S., to the wide world of Street Art and the intricacies of Japanese crafts and traditions. You can visit the rooftop of the Taj Mahal or the famous castles of France's Loire Valley or even tour the United States’ National Parks, all from a mobile device. We also recommend checking out the stories behind what you wear—this collection lets you browse more than 30,000 pieces from 3,000 years fashion history: try searching for hats and sort them by color or sort shoes by time. So cool.

At Google Arts & Culture, our software engineers are always experimenting with new and creative ways to connect you with art and culture. That’s how this selfie feature came about, too. We know there’s great demand to improve and expand the selfie-matching feature to more locations, including outside the U.S., and we’ll share more news as soon as we have it. We’ll continue to partner with more museums to bring diverse cultures from every part of the world online (any museum can join!), so you can explore their stories and find even more portraits.

In the meantime, you can download the Google Arts & Culture app for iOS or Android and get face to face  with art!

With Tilt Brush, an artist turns his virtual world into reality

Editor’s note: Today’s post comes from British portrait painter Jonathan Yeo.

From photography to the printing press, to modern computing, art and technology have always influenced one another. And the artist’s toolkit is expanding with new mediums like virtual reality. As a portrait artist who primarily works with oil paint in two dimensions, drawing in three- dimensional space was unknown territory for me. Until recently, I’ve never created art using VR technology, but with Google Arts and Culture and the help of Tilt Brush engineers, I brought VR and sculpture together to create something that was more than just an experiment.

From Virtual to Reality: The world's first large scale, 3D printed sculpture

This week at the Royal Academy in London, I’m unveiling a metal sculpture l created using Tilt Brush’s unique “brushstrokes.” This is part of the Royal Academy’s “From Life” exhibition, which opens on the eve of their 250th anniversary, and explores the history of life drawing—the practice of drawing from live models.  

Using advanced 3D scanning and Tilt Brush technology, I was able to virtually sculpt “from life.” I first scanned my head using LightStage (facial-scanning technology from the optical company OTOY), then imported this into Tilt Brush and began painting my self-portrait with a virtual brush. This was then 3D printed directly from Tilt Brush and cast in bronze at Pangolin, one of the world’s leading foundries.

Using virtual reality, I could explore sculpting using the skills developed in my painting practice and within my own studio environment. What’s really exciting is how the final bronze structure precisely captures the free, expressive movements that were previously only possible in paintings. The result is a hybrid of painting and virtual creation, and could open up a world of possibilities for other artists to experiment and take this new medium much further.

Jonathan Yeo’s artwork, “Homage to Paolozzi (Self Portrait),” will be exhibited in From Life at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, which runs from December 11, 2017 - March 11, 2018.

The British Museum and Google Arts & Culture: Decoding the secrets of the ancient Maya

In the 19th century, the explorer Alfred Maudslay set out to capture and preserve the stories the Maya of Central America, one of the largest and most successful indigenous cultures in the world, with more than 2000 years of rich and vibrant history. For decades, he travelled through the region carrying tons of equipment on mule trains through the jungle and created the first glass plate photographs and plaster casts of some of the most important ancient Maya art from the region.

More than 100 years later, Google Arts & Culture and the British Museum are picking up where Maudslay left off. Now, visitors from around the world can explore the Maya’s rich heritage online and learn about their achievements in art, architecture, astronomy, mathematics and language.

In a new set of exhibits, you can rotate incredibly detailed 3D models of ancient Maya art, take 360 virtual tours of the ancient sites of Tikal and Quirigua, and dive into numerous multimedia exhibits and 12 magical Street View panoramas of ancient sites and museums across Guatemala. Here are just a few things you can discover about one of the largest indigenous American populations, who their ancestors were, and what we can learn from them today:

We’re proud to have partnered together to bring stories of this important civilization online, while digitally preserving them for the future. The British Museum collections can be viewed online with Google Arts & Culture and on our iOS and Android apps.

Defying gravity: an epic stunt at the Guggenheim Bilbao

When the Guggenheim Bilbao museum opened 20 years ago it was described by many as a starship from outer space. Its swirling roof is made of paper-thin titanium tiles—33,000 of them—covering the building like fish scales. At the time, it was such a novelty that the museum had to commission a chemical laboratory to produce a custom liquid to clean the titanium!

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Guggenheim Bilbao (photo by Trashhand)

The museum was an unusual experiment not just because of its gleaming shell. Over two decades ago, following the collapse of the traditional industries Bilbao was built on, the city was scarred with industrial wastelands, abandoned factories, and a community afflicted by unemployment and social tensions. Bilbao surprised the world (and raised a few eyebrows) with a unique idea to kickstart the city's regeneration, and they set out to build—not new factories or new roads—but instead a new center for modern art.


Since then, the museum has attracted 19 million visitors and became the epicenter of the urban renewal that rippled through Bilbao. Today it stands as an icon of the city and its successful self-transformation. To celebrate the Guggenheim's 20th anniversary, Google Arts & Culture partnered with the museum to bring their stories to you and show it from a new angle.


But how do you find a new angle on one of the world's most photographed buildings? Google invited Johan Tonnoir—known for running and jumping across Paris's busy rooftops with only a pair of sturdy shoes—to the Guggenheim.

Johan explored the building in his own way … through a breathtaking stunt-run across the building and its iconic slippery roof. He climbed to the highest peak and jumped, flipped and leapt from one wing of the roof to the other at 50 meters high. And all along, urban photographer Trashhand from Chicago followed him with his lens.

Check out the museum’s masterpieces on Google Arts & Culture (but please don't try to do it Johan's way…). You can see all this online at g.co/guggenheimbilbao or in the Google Arts & Culture app on iOS and Android.

Defying gravity: an epic stunt at the Guggenheim Bilbao

When the Guggenheim Bilbao museum opened 20 years ago it was described by many as a starship from outer space. Its swirling roof is made of paper-thin titanium tiles—33,000 of them—covering the building like fish scales. At the time, it was such a novelty that the museum had to commission a chemical laboratory to produce a custom liquid to clean the titanium!

GOOGLE.TRASHHAND-14.JPG
Guggenheim Bilbao (photo by Trashhand)

The museum was an unusual experiment not just because of its gleaming shell. Over two decades ago, following the collapse of the traditional industries Bilbao was built on, the city was scarred with industrial wastelands, abandoned factories, and a community afflicted by unemployment and social tensions. Bilbao surprised the world (and raised a few eyebrows) with a unique idea to kickstart the city's regeneration, and they set out to build—not new factories or new roads—but instead a new center for modern art.


Since then, the museum has attracted 19 million visitors and became the epicenter of the urban renewal that rippled through Bilbao. Today it stands as an icon of the city and its successful self-transformation. To celebrate the Guggenheim's 20th anniversary, Google Arts & Culture partnered with the museum to bring their stories to you and show it from a new angle.


But how do you find a new angle on one of the world's most photographed buildings? Google invited Johan Tonnoir—known for running and jumping across Paris's busy rooftops with only a pair of sturdy shoes—to the Guggenheim.

Johan explored the building in his own way … through a breathtaking stunt-run across the building and its iconic slippery roof. He climbed to the highest peak and jumped, flipped and leapt from one wing of the roof to the other at 50 meters high. And all along, urban photographer Trashhand from Chicago followed him with his lens.

Check out the museum’s masterpieces on Google Arts & Culture (but please don't try to do it Johan's way…). You can see all this online at g.co/guggenheimbilbao or in the Google Arts & Culture app on iOS and Android.

Google Arts & Culture shines a light on 5,000 years of English heritage

Some of the oldest prehistoric settlers roamed the land we call England today. In fact, England can trace its roots all the way back to the fifth century. That’s a lot of history, knowledge and culture to cover—enough to fill several libraries. But what about things that can’t be housed in libraries—archaeological artifacts, castles, forts and monuments like the Dover Castle from the 11th Century (the largest castle in England) or Hailes Abbey (where Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall is buried)? We’re partnering with English Heritage to create a new Google Arts & Culture exhibit that celebrates these sites and the incredible stories behind them. The collection captures the breadth of England's historical, architectural, and cultural heritage.


Through more than 30 multimedia exhibits and 10 editorial features on Google Arts & Culture, you can experience online almost 3,000 historic gems from the Prehistoric, Roman, Medieval, Tudor, Civil War and Stuart periods through the 21st century and from the perspective of the historians, experts and curators who manage the collections and heritage sites across England. You can explore by time period or, with the help of machine learning tools that recognize color patterns, you can sort through items by color (click on the paint palette icon to do this).


Here are a few examples of things you’ll find in the online exhibit:

At a launch event for the collection in Westminster Parliament in London, John Glen, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, emphasized the importance of cultural heritage and how technology can be used as a means of experiencing culture: “Our #CultureIsDigital project aims to harness the creative potential of technology to increase awareness and engagement in our world-class cultural organizations. The collaboration between Google and English Heritage is a perfect example of how the heritage and tech sectors can work together to present our history and culture in new and exciting ways. It showcases the richness and variety of our cultural heritage to the world and demonstrates how we can enhance the experience and share new stories using digital technologies.”  


Matt Thompson, Head of Collections at English Heritage, talked about the importance of technology in helping English Heritage share collections and stories: “English Heritage is looking for new ways to open our sites to the public and share their stories. With Google Arts & Culture, we’ve been able to bring people closer to our historic masterpieces, open up our storehouses to a global audience, and showcase unseen artifacts.”


The English Heritage collections can be viewed online with Google Arts & Culture and on our iOS and Android apps.

Bavarian State Library and Google celebrate 10 years of partnership

Ten years ago the venerable Bavarian State Library from Munich (BSB) and the comparatively young Google started their joint adventure: the digitization of hundreds of thousands of historical writings from the archives of the BSB and its Bavarian regional libraries. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of our collaboration, we’ve published a digital exhibition on Google Arts & Culture.

The BSB looks back on almost 500 years of history. In 1558 it was founded by Duke Albrecht V. With more than 10 million volumes, 61,000 current journals and 130,000 manuscripts, the library is one of the most important knowledge centers in the world.

To preserve that heritage, BSB has been working with Google since 2007 to digitize over 1.9 million copyright-free titles—such as books, maps and magazines—from the 17th to the end of the 19th century. Thanks to this partnership, BSB is now the largest digital database of all German libraries. The project has long been expanded and now covers the holdings of the ten regional state libraries such as Regensburg, Passau or Augsburg.

Not only for us at Google this clearly is a milestone in digitization and the prototype of a public-private partnership. Klaus Ceynowa, Managing Director of BSB, adds: “Content in context is our mantra. Google has played a major role in helping us achieve it!”

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Tausend und eine Nacht : arabische Erzählungen, One Thousand and One Nights: Arabic stories" (1872), Weil, Gustav
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“Atlas Minor: Ein kurtze jedoch gründtliche Beschreibung der gantzen Welt und aller ihrer Theyl” (1631), Gerard Mercator
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“The lion” - Illustration from “The small menagerie - drawings of the most extraordinary wild animals” (1854)
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“The Zeitgeist and the people, a mirror of the sins of the world: An Octoberfest-Sermon” (1835)

Bavarian State Library and Google celebrate 10 years of partnership

Ten years ago the venerable Bavarian State Library from Munich (BSB) and the comparatively young Google started their joint adventure: the digitization of hundreds of thousands of historical writings from the archives of the BSB and its Bavarian regional libraries. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of our collaboration, we’ve published a digital exhibition on Google Arts & Culture.

The BSB looks back on almost 500 years of history. In 1558 it was founded by Duke Albrecht V. With more than 10 million volumes, 61,000 current journals and 130,000 manuscripts, the library is one of the most important knowledge centers in the world.

To preserve that heritage, BSB has been working with Google since 2007 to digitize over 1.9 million copyright-free titles—such as books, maps and magazines—from the 17th to the end of the 19th century. Thanks to this partnership, BSB is now the largest digital database of all German libraries. The project has long been expanded and now covers the holdings of the ten regional state libraries such as Regensburg, Passau or Augsburg.

Not only for us at Google this clearly is a milestone in digitization and the prototype of a public-private partnership. Klaus Ceynowa, Managing Director of BSB, adds: “Content in context is our mantra. Google has played a major role in helping us achieve it!”

BSB 5
Tausend und eine Nacht : arabische Erzählungen, One Thousand and One Nights: Arabic stories" (1872), Weil, Gustav
BSB 4
“Atlas Minor: Ein kurtze jedoch gründtliche Beschreibung der gantzen Welt und aller ihrer Theyl” (1631), Gerard Mercator
BSB 6
“The lion” - Illustration from “The small menagerie - drawings of the most extraordinary wild animals” (1854)
BSB 1
“The Zeitgeist and the people, a mirror of the sins of the world: An Octoberfest-Sermon” (1835)

Bavarian State Library and Google celebrate 10 years of partnership

Ten years ago the venerable Bavarian State Library from Munich (BSB) and the comparatively young Google started their joint adventure: the digitization of hundreds of thousands of historical writings from the archives of the BSB and its Bavarian regional libraries. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of our collaboration, we’ve published a digital exhibition on Google Arts & Culture.

The BSB looks back on almost 500 years of history. In 1558 it was founded by Duke Albrecht V. With more than 10 million volumes, 61,000 current journals and 130,000 manuscripts, the library is one of the most important knowledge centers in the world.

To preserve that heritage, BSB has been working with Google since 2007 to digitize over 1.9 million copyright-free titles—such as books, maps and magazines—from the 17th to the end of the 19th century. Thanks to this partnership, BSB is now the largest digital database of all German libraries. The project has long been expanded and now covers the holdings of the ten regional state libraries such as Regensburg, Passau or Augsburg.

Not only for us at Google this clearly is a milestone in digitization and the prototype of a public-private partnership. Klaus Ceynowa, Managing Director of BSB, adds: “Content in context is our mantra. Google has played a major role in helping us achieve it!”

BSB 5
Tausend und eine Nacht : arabische Erzählungen, One Thousand and One Nights: Arabic stories" (1872), Weil, Gustav
BSB 4
“Atlas Minor: Ein kurtze jedoch gründtliche Beschreibung der gantzen Welt und aller ihrer Theyl” (1631), Gerard Mercator
BSB 6
“The lion” - Illustration from “The small menagerie - drawings of the most extraordinary wild animals” (1854)
BSB 1
“The Zeitgeist and the people, a mirror of the sins of the world: An Octoberfest-Sermon” (1835)

Exploring Contemporary Art with Google Arts & Culture

Working with more than 180 partners all over the world, Google Arts & Culture is shining a light on contemporary art, with a new collection of online stories and rich digital content at g.co/ContemporaryArt.

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GAC_Contemporary Art

Through an immersive digital journey, we bring you straight to the institutions housing the world’s seminal contemporary art collections with the help of high quality visuals, gigapixel resolution images—which allow you to zoom into the tiny details of a piece of art, and panoramic Museum View imagery. You can hear amazing stories about art from curators, artists, and experts from institutions all over the world.

With a repository of online exhibits and editorial features, we answer common questions about the contemporary art world, introduce you to the world’s leading contemporary artists and icons, and perhaps most importantly, the issues that are shaping art today.

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Here are some of our favorites:

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Explore more stories and immersive digital content on contemporary art from over 180 partners around the world with the Google Arts and Culture app on Android and iOS.

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