Tag Archives: Culture

An eye for detail: Zoom through 1,000 artworks thanks to the new Art Camera from the Google Cultural Institute

So much of the beauty and power of art lives in the details. You can only fully appreciate the genius of artists like Monet or Van Gogh when you stand so close to a masterpiece that your nose almost touches it. As you step back from the brush strokes, you wonder how it all comes together. At the Google Cultural Institute, we know that people love experiencing art in close detail. Millions of people spend time exploring our ultra-high resolution “gigapixel” images, inch by inch—spotting something new every time, like a hidden signature or the individual dabs of paint that give the impression of shimmering, turbulent waters.

Zooming into these images is the closest thing to walking up to the real thing with a magnifying glass. This is why we’re so excited about our new Art Camera—a custom-built camera ready to travel around the world to bring people more of these ultra-high-resolution images than ever possible before.
The Port of Rotterdam by Paul Signac, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

A gigapixel image is made of over one billion pixels, and can bring out details invisible to the naked eye. So creating digital images in such high resolution is a complex technical challenge. You need time, highly specialized and expensive equipment, and only a few people in the world can do the job. In the first five years of the Google Cultural Institute, we’ve been able to share about 200 gigapixel images. But we want to do much more. That’s why we developed the Art Camera.

The Art Camera is a robotic camera, custom-built to create gigapixel images faster and more easily. A robotic system steers the camera automatically from detail to detail, taking hundreds of high resolution close-ups of the painting. To make sure the focus is right on each brush stroke, it’s equipped with a laser and a sonar that—much like a bat—uses high frequency sound to measure the distance of the artwork. Once each detail is captured, our software takes the thousands of close-up shots and, like a jigsaw, stitches the pieces together into one single image.

Many of the works of our greatest artists are fragile and sensitive to light and humidity. With the Art Camera, museums can share these priceless works with the global public while ensuring they're preserved for future generations. We want to give museums the tools they need to do this important work, so we're sending a fleet of these cameras from museum to museum around the world—for free.

The Art Camera will dramatically increase the scale and depth at which museums are able to provide access to our shared cultural heritage to anyone around the world. For example, if you wanted to see Van Gogh’s six famous portraits of the Roulin family up close, you’d need to travel across the Netherlands then over to LA and New York. Now the Art Camera can travel for you. It’s already captured the Portrait of Armand Roulin, which you can explore alongside the rest of the family, all in one place.

Today, we’re sharing the first thousand ultra-high resolution images of artworks from artists including Pissarro, Signac, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Monet and many more from museums across Australia, India, the Netherlands, Brazil and everywhere in between. As we prepare to celebrate International Museum Day and welcome more than 25 new museums on the Google Cultural Institute, we want to thank everyone who worked with us to test the new camera in the recent months. Thanks to their work, today you can start zooming and explore more art in the details than ever before!

100 years on: explore Ireland’s Easter Rising with Google



In 2016 Irish people at home and abroad will mark the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, when Irish people fought for their right to self governance. The Rising had a transformative impact and is recognised as the catalyst that ultimately led to the modern Ireland we have today.

The Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme includes more than 2,000 events in Ireland and another 1,000 internationally. Throughout we will remember our shared history on the island of Ireland; reflect on our achievements over the last 100 years and look ambitiously to our future.

In Dublin Rising 1916-2016, which has been launched by the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland Enda Kenny, TD, today, Google is using its technologies to creatively enable millions of people around the world to share in Ireland’s 2016 commemorations and learn more about the events of 1916 right from their phone, tablet or computer.
This interactive Google Street View tour will allow visitors to virtually explore the city streets, events and people who shaped history 100 years ago. The tour, which is narrated by actor Colin Farrell, will bring visitors on a virtual tour around the Dublin of today, with the Dublin of 1916 overlaid.
Throughout the tour, visitors can stop at city centre locations in Dublin as they are today, hear what happened there and click to explore photos, videos and witness statements from the people of 1916. As a person stands looking at the General Post Office of today, for example, they’ll be able to see the General Post Office as it was 100 years ago, destroyed by shell fire. They’ll hear witness statements from rebels who fought there and hear the stories of all the different people involved.
President Michael D. Higgins recently said that the centenary offers all of us an opportunity to reflect on events of the past, so that we can build a future that honours the promise of equality and inclusiveness contained in the 1916 Proclamation. I want to thank the Google team, together with the historians and experts from Ireland 2016 and Century Ireland who through Dublin Rising 1916-2016 have made our history accessible and are providing everyone with the opportunity to remember our past while celebrating our present and looking forward to the future.

You can explore Dublin Rising 1916-2016 here: https://dublinrising.withgoogle.com/

The British Museum: a museum for the world



The British Museum was founded in 1753 by an act of Parliament and is the embodiment of Enlightenment idealism. In a revolutionary move, it was from its inception designed to be the collection of every citizen of the world, not a royal possession and not controlled by the state.

Over the succeeding 260 plus years it has gathered and exhibited things from all over the globe – antiquities, coins, sculptures, drawings – and made them freely available to anyone who was able to come and see them. Millions have visited and learned, and have been inspired by what they saw. Today the Museum is probably the most comprehensive survey of the material culture of humanity in existence.

The world today has changed; the way we access information has been revolutionised by digital technology. Sharing knowledge has become easier and we can do extraordinary things with technology which enable us to give new reality to the Enlightenment ideal on which the Museum was founded. It is now possible to make our collection accessible, explorable and enjoyable not just for those who physically visit, but for everybody with a computer or a mobile device.

Yesterday, we announced a partnership with Google that allows us to further our own – extraordinary – mission: to be a Museum of and for the World, making the knowledge and culture of the whole of humanity open and available to all. This isn’t just about putting the collection ‘online'. Through our partnership with Google, we hope to give people new ways to experience and enjoy the Museum, new ways to learn, new ways to share and new ways to teach.

Thousands of objects from the Museum’s collection will be available to view through the Google Cultural Institute and through a special, dedicated site called ‘The Museum of the World’, which will allow users to explore and make connections between the world’s cultures.


One of the Museum’s most important objects, the Admonitions Scroll, a Chinese scroll dating from the 6th century, has been captured in super high-resolution to give you a closer and more intimate view than you could ever get with the naked eye.


We’ve captured the whole Museum via Street View, meaning that if you can’t get to the Museum in person, you can take a virtual walking tour of every permanent gallery, and its outdoor buildings.

And virtual exhibits allow you to see Celtic objects from across UK museums brought together in a unique tour or a thematic exhibition detailing Egypt’s history after the pharaohs.


None of this is to deny the power of seeing an object in the flesh in a gallery - nothing will replace that experience. But it does allow a far greater public access to the Museum and its unparalleled collection.

And this is just the beginning. We’re in a brave new world of information dissemination. As we are transformed by globalisation, it is more important than ever to understand the past of the whole world. The breadth of the British Museum’s collection, the authority of the Museum’s scholarship and the skill with which it is presented and mediated: all these are now ready and available for anyone anywhere on the planet.

The more we can work with partners in the technology sphere, and the more we rise to the challenge of making our world a digital one, the greater will be our impact on community cohesion and understanding, domestically and internationally. Through technology, the Museum’s collection can become the private collection of the entire world. And so our great Enlightenment vision moves into a phase our founders in the 18th century couldn’t even have dreamed of.

View the “Chopin Olympics” on YouTube and the Google Cultural Institute

If you’re a piano afficionado, then you’re quite possibly also a fan of the great Polish piano virtuoso and composer Fryderyk Chopin. And if that’s you, you’re in luck: starting today, 78 of the world’s greatest pianists and new talents from 29 countries are gathering in Poland for the “Chopin Olympics”, more properly known as the International Fryderyk Chopin Competition.

This year, Google is the official partner of the competition, which runs throughout October. For the first time, you can watch all the performances on YouTube, including livestreaming of some of the concerts. And you can delve deep into the history of the competition and into Fryderyk Chopin’s history via two new online exhibitions on the Google Cultural Institute.

The Chopin Piano Competition started in 1927 and is one of few competitions in the world devoted entirely to the works of a single composer. Winners of the past editions became one of the greatest pianists in the world like Argentinian Martha Argerich or Polish Rafal Blechacz. Visit the Institute’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/chopin2015, to watch more than 120 hours of performances, interviews with pianists, behind the scenes footage, and the Grand Finale concerts held from 18th to 20th October.

And on the Google Cultural Institute you can also view two new exhibitions, curated by the Polish National Fryderyk Chopin Institute. The first exhibition draws on an archive of more than 200 rare documents to guide you through the fascinating life of the child prodigy who developed into one of the Romantic era’s truly international superstars, before meeting an untimely death at the age of 39.

The Institute’s second exhibition provides an immersive, multimedia overview of Chopin’s piano music and the historic competition from 1927 to the present day. It unveils hidden stories, personal letters, original manuscript compositions, and great background footage about the early competition performances and the jury’s secret decisions.

The cherry on the cake for serious music lovers is a unique gigapixel image of a rare original composition penned by Chopin in 1833, entitled Fantasy-Impromptu in C sharp minor. The imagery is so sharp that you can examine every handwritten note, annotation and correction in minute detail:


We hope you’ll tune in to the Chopin Institute YouTube channel for some awe-inspiring performances - and that you’ll be inspired by the exhibits. Oh, and… best of luck to all the competitors!

What makes us Human?



Over the past three years, filmmaker and artist Yann Arthus-Bertrand travelled to 60 countries, interviewing more than 2,000 people in dozens of languages, in an attempt to answer the question: What is it that makes us human? The result is HUMAN, a documentary film that weaves together a rich collection of stories from freedom fighters in Ukraine, farmers in Mali, death row inmates in the United States, and more—on topics that unite us all: love, justice, family, and the future of our planet.

Now we’re partnering with Arthus-Bertrand, the Goodplanet Foundation and Bettencourt Schueller Foundation, to bring HUMAN to you on Google Play, YouTube and the Google Cultural Institute so we can share this project with the widest audience throughout the world.

Watch an extended version of the film on YouTube and Google Play
We’re making HUMAN available on YouTube starting September 12, and later on Google Play. This “director’s cut”of three 90-minute films will be available in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. On YouTube, you can also watch extra footage including interviews with figures like United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, animal rights activist Jane Goodall and actress Cameron Diaz, all of whom participated in the film.




Explore HUMAN with the Google Cultural Institute
Over at the Google Cultural Institute, you can learn about the origin of the film and listen to anecdotes from the people who brought it to life. You can also meet the characters in and around the movie in their daily lives, with six exhibits of behind the scenes photos and videos that let you explore how HUMAN was made over three years. This includes a collection highlighting how the director shot the aerial views that are a signature of Arthus-Bertrand’s filmmaking.
Exhibitions on Google the Cultural Institute platform

Learn more about this project at g.co/humanthemovie or on the HUMAN Behind The Scenes mobile app, available on Google Play. With HUMAN, we want to help citizens around the world connect together. So we’d like to hear your answer to the question of what makes us human. Add your voice to the conversation with #WhatMakesUsHUMAN.

All aboard for a tour through the latest treasures from India on Google Cultural Institute

[Cross posted from Official Google APAC Blog]

Yoga is the Sanskrit word for “union”. It’s also a handy metaphor for the 2,000 digital images and 70 online exhibits from cultural organizations across India that we’re bringing to the Google Cultural Institute today. From ancient artifacts to centuries-old arts and crafts and more contemporary yoga exhibits, join me on a short tour of this eclectic new imagery! 

Just like in yoga, let’s begin in a comfortable sitting pose in the legendary Palace on Wheels. Rivaling Europe’s Orient Express, its splendid royal carriage, called the Jodphur Saloon, carried Indian royalty across Rajasthan. Thanks to 360 degree Street View indoor imagery, you can step inside and move around to explore the luxuriously decorated cabins.


Jodphur Saloon on the "Palace on Wheels" train, 1930 (Heritage Transport Museum, Gurgaon) Built in 1930 and in operation for over 60 years, the Jodhpur Saloon brings together many examples of India’s venerable tradition of craftsmanship — take a closer look at the embellished ceiling, the beautiful wooden flooring, and finely carved wooden furnishings.

Many of India’s traditional craft techniques are slowly disappearing, which makes wider access to these cultural legacies all the more important in contemporary India. Our exhibit from the National Museum in New Delhi spotlights over 170 applied arts and crafts treasures. Just one example is this century old head ornament, which was treated as more than just a functional tool, and used as a canvas for intricate design work.


Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 12.58.32 PM.png
South Indian head ornaments (suryan and chandran) (1900-1930), gold, diamonds, rubies, pearls (collection: National Museum, Delhi)

There’s plenty to discover from modern day India, too. We’re pleased to feature the complete Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014 installation and works from the cutting-edge Devi Art Foundation.


Our last stop takes us full circle. The ancient tradition of yoga is widely acknowledged as “India’s gift to the world”. Learn more about the life and times of one of India’s leading gurus, B.K. Iyengar, in the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute exhibit.

Iyengar: a Yoga's Life (collection: Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute

Beyond welcoming 10 new partners to the Cultural Institute, we are pleased to be working with Dastkari Haat Samiti, Devi Art Foundation, Heritage Transport Museum and Kalakriti Archives on launching mobile apps that will make their exhibits even more accessible. These apps are just one example of the infinite opportunities that technology can create to preserve and expand the reach of art and culture.

Historic maps are more accessible to mobile users thanks to the Kalakriti Archives app built with Cultural Institute technology

We hope you’ll enjoy this visual feast!

Posted by Simon Rein, Program Manager, Google Cultural Institute

Forget Middle Earth—Central and Eastern Europe’s salt mines, ice caves, mountains and castles are now on Street View

Throughout history, Europe has been a hotbed of culture, imagination and natural beauty. At Google we’re keen to share these elements with the world through our maps, so over recent months we’ve been taking all manner of Street View technologies—Trekkers, Trolleys and tripods—to capture some incredible places across the continent, focusing this time on Central and Eastern Europe. Here are a few highlights for you to explore:

Hungary
Floating down the Danube river in summertime is a wonderful thing. But now you can also check out some of Hungary’s hidden gems in Google Maps. Take a look inside the National Theatre of Pécs and explore the beautiful Basilica of Eger, the second largest church in the country. In the capital, Budapest, you can walk among the trees and rose bushes in the little-known but spectacular botanical garden near the centre of town, or even climb a hill to get away from it all.

Czech Republic
If you’re lucky enough to have been to Prague, you may have seen the fairytale sight of Prague Castle from the medieval Charles Bridge. They’re too good to miss, so we added these sites and almost 30 others in Czech Republic to Street View including the gardens of the Prague Castle, Prague’s historic center, interiors of castles such as Cesky Krumlov and Spilberk, and beauty spots like Ceske Svycarsko and Krkonose National Park.

Slovakia
In Slovakia, we’ve just released images of heritage sites like this wooden protestant church in Kezmarok and national parks like Velka Fatra and Pieniny. To get a feel for the history of the country, why not check out Branc Castle or Draskovic Castle in Cachtice? From the high turrets and battlements of the castles, you can then take a trip below ground and visit Dobsinska Ice Cave and Ochtinska Aragonite Cave which we added last year.

Romania
And finally, sink 100 meters deep into one of the most breathtaking places beneath the earth: the Turda Salt Mine, in Cluj County, Romania. Tourists around the world can take a tour of the mine—which is more than 200 years old—with our high-resolution imagery, from the comfort of their homes.


We hope you enjoy discovering some of the delights of Europe as much as we did.

Celebrating Europe’s creativity – on YouTube

It’s hard to believe it’s been just 10 years since the founders of YouTube recorded a grainy video in front of an elephant enclosure — and subsequently changed the world. The video itself was unremarkable, but their idea was powerfully simple: broadcast yourself.

Ten years on, the site is used by everyone from lifestyle bloggers to renowned chefs and everyone in between. People use it to share events in real time, and to open up a treasure trove of historic films to the world. YouTube became a platform for ideas, culture and talent from all across Europe too.

A decade of sharing European creativity is definitely something worth celebrating - and that’s what we did last night, at Bozar, the Centre for Fine Arts, in Brussels. If you missed Les Twins on stage last night, you can see them in action here. Larry and Laurent Bourgeois are identical twins from Sarcelles, France. A single video on YouTube took them from the suburbs of Paris to international stardom, touring with Beyoncé and Cirque du Soleil. They have more than 12 million views on their YouTube channel.



From up and coming young musicians to world-leading European cultural institutions such as Madrid’s Prado Museum or the Berlin Philharmonic, thousands of creators are reaching new audiences online with their videos.

To celebrate its 60th anniversary this year, the Eurovision Song Contest streamed its shows live on YouTube, globally, for the first time. We think that's worth twelve points :-) -- and so do almost 100 European TV channels who have partnered with YouTube to find new fans all over the planet.

Every day people watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube and around a quarter of that time is spent watching videos made by European creators. There are hundreds of YouTube channels across the European Union that make six-figure sums a year by allowing adverts to be shown next to their content - and our partner revenue increased by over 50% per year for each of the last years




Europe has helped make YouTube what it is today and we can’t wait to see what it has to share with the world in the next 10 years.

Add some art to your browser for International Museum Day

Today is International Museum Day and it's been four years since we launched Google Art Project. Since then we’ve worked closely with hundreds of museums and partners around the world to bring art online while supporting their mission to encourage cultural exchange across the globe.

A great way to celebrate this special day with us is to download the Google Art Project Chrome extension. Launched a few weeks ago, this extension allows you to discover a work of art from our partners each time you open a new browser tab.


Whether browsing from home or the office, you’ll see masterpieces ranging from Van Gogh’s Landscape at Saint-Rémy and João Baptista de Costa’s Gruta Azul, all the way to contemporary works from street artists around the world. With the Google Art Project Chrome extension, you can turn each new tab into a journey through the world’s cultural heritage.


To learn more about the artwork, the artist or the museum showcased in your browser, just click on the lower left hand corner of the image to explore it on the Google Cultural Institute platform. Happy browsing!

70 years on: remembering the end of World War II

This week marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. As time passes, and memories fade, it’s important to remember both the sacrifices made and the remarkable stories of the period. That’s why the Google Cultural Institute has partnered with twenty-seven museums and institutions around the world to bring more than 1400 rare and important world war-related artifacts online.

Each of our partner institutions is a custodian of vital national heritage, preserving important stories and artifacts from the war years. Now, using tools provided by the Google Cultural Institute, expert curators have brought to life a wide range of remarkable and inspiring online exhibitions that demonstrate the bravery, ingenuity and sacrifice of those who fought - and those whose lives were changed forever by the war.

The Dutch Nationaal Comité 4 en 5 mei has curated an online exhibition of 100 objects from the War. Among them is a radio, hidden in a briefcase; members of the Dutch resistance used these devices to maintain contact with Britain during the War.

From the US National Archives’ online exhibition, World War II Looted Art: Turning History into Justice, we have rare photographs of the real Monuments Men and the masterpieces they rescued during the War

The Warsaw Rising Museum has created an online exhibition with photographs of the Warsaw Uprising, taken by five photojournalists secretly trained by the Polish Underground State:

The World War II channel on the Cultural Institute includes many more rare images and stories, including German propaganda posters and photographs of the reconstruction of Manila after the War in the Pacific region.

We hope you’ll take a moment to step back in time to discover, learn and #RememberWW2 at google.com/culturalinstitute/project/second-world-war.