Author Archives: Amit Sood

Google Arts & Culture turns 10

Time flies when working on something you are passionate about. On this day 10 years ago, our team was beginning a 20 percent project and taking the first step toward making more art and culture more accessible. Together, with 17 cultural institutions from 11 countries, we took a leap into the unknown without quite knowing where this journey would lead us. 

Today, millions of people from across the world have come to Google Arts & Culture to learn more about our shared history as humanity. They explore the thousands of exhibitions and stories that bring millions of artifacts — from a 230,000 year-old figurine to a modern day particle collider — to life. Families, teachers, art professionals and the culturally curious use augmented reality to bring artworks to their homes, embark on a virtual school trip through the US National Parks, AI-translate ancient Hieroglyphics or simply enjoy a digital puzzle

To this day, over 2,000 museums, archives, world heritage sites and local communities have come together on Google Arts & Culture to share, curate and contextualize their treasures in a way that was unimaginable 10 years ago. Back then, the thought of uploading an image to the web — let alone an ultra high resolution digitization — seemed outlandish. But with the partnership and shared passion of culture enthusiasts around the globe, today Google Arts & Culture features an expertly curated reservoir of culture that also shows the paradigm shift in how people can access culture online.                                                                         

Everything can be seen through a cultural lens

What struck us most in the past years was how our partners — both independently and in collaboration across borders — showed us how everything can be seen through a cultural lens. Yes, there is the Mona Lisa, but there is also Nigerian pepper soup, Australian sporting culture, Indonesian batik or graffiti in the streets of Brazil and beyond. This expanded our sense of culture and enriched our understanding of humankind. The same is true for themes that make us think, and offer perspectives that help us to understand our past, and shape our presence and future: you’ll find roads to equality, pathways to freedom or routes through endangered heritage sites all seen through the eyes of local communities. Never could I have imagined how much more there is to be discovered about pioneering female palaeontologist Mary Anning, the life of manga artist Tezuka Osamu or even miniature paintings from my own home country. The breadth of stories, knowledge and treasures in our world  is truly without borders.

The challenge is what brings us together

While our partners broadened what kind of cultural stories they share with the world, they also pushed and inspired us to develop technologies and new formats to bring these stories to life and rouse people’s interest. For our part, we work with our partners to develop engaging tools and visually stunning experiences to transform the way people can interact with culture. For example our Art Camera and the launch of a dedicated Arts & Culture app — filled with camera-based features such as the viral Art Selfie, or augmented reality features such as Pocket Gallery or Art Filters — created new ways of engaging with art for our partners and visitors alike. While the first allowed ultra high resolution digitizations, that invite you to zoom in to brush-stroke level of paintings such as Van Gogh's “The Starry Night”, the other created a place full of engaging and contemporary features that draw you in. 

Equally important was the foundation of the Google Arts & Culture Lab in Paris — a place where artists come together with creative technologists from Google to experiment at the intersection of art and technology. I recommend everyone to roam NASA’s Visual Universe, create a Poem Portrait with Es Devlin, or try the pleasantly distracting “Blob Opera” by David Li. 

Over the past decade, our mission of making world culture more accessible to everyone through technology has evolved, and yet it remains true to its goal because of our partners' outstanding curatorial knowledge and the artifacts they share.

It is all about the people behind the scenes 

To our partners, a massive “dhanyavaad” (which means thank you in Hindi). And by partners we mean everyone: the curator spending time to create a stunning online exhibition, the art handlers who help digitize thousands of spaces and archives, the preservation expert sharing fragile treasures, the directors who believe in participating in an online platform and everyone behind the scenes. A heartfelt thank you goes out to every single person who made these 10 years possible.

Culture never stops

Looking back on the past 10 years, there were many surprises, turning points and shared experiences. But it is perhaps the pandemic, and the past year in which we all truly came to understand the strength, impact and story of perseverance that truly lies in the cultural sector. Institutions that had to close their doors to the public found innovative ways to fulfill their missions. We are humbled by their tenacity, and remain committed to supporting them with all the ways technology can help in the months and years ahead.  

The world is hungry for culture and we will continue to find new and unusual ways for everyone to interact, access and learn with culture — and hopefully be inspired to visit the “real thing” when it’s safe to do so.

100 Years of Bauhaus on Google Arts & Culture

Even if you’ve never heard of the Bauhaus movement, you’ve probably seen its influence all around you. From traffic signs to office furniture, the legendary design school changed the way our world looks and functions.  

One hundred years after the movement began in Germany, we’re still surrounded by Bauhaus ideas about art, technology and craftsmanship, which are reflected in Google Arts & Culture's newest collection—"Bauhaus Everywhere". The collection came together in partnership with the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation in Germany—as part of our multi-year digitization collaboration—and six other partners including the IIT Institute of Design or the Guggenheim Museum.

Bauhaus design aimed to improve people's lives through functional design. Well-known members of the school, such as its founder Walter Gropius, the controversial Hannes Meyer or Gunta Stölzl, as one of many female designers and artists, have a lasting influence on architecture, furniture design and even typefaces

This project digitizes over 10,000 objects, offers virtual tours of iconic buildings and exhibits over 400 artworks captured with our Art Camera. The result is over 45 online exhibitions curated by our seven partners featuring icons like the world known tubular steel armchair or imagery of “Africa's Finest Campus” and the (perhaps unexpectedly) best selling bauhaus design, wallpaper

There are also unique insights into the everyday student life of Bauhaus including the renowned Bauhaus parties and the forward thinking empowerment of women. And, because the school’s design principles spread far beyond Germany and Europe, we’ve created a Google Earth Voyager Tour to show how people as far away as Japan, India or Brazil were inspired by Bauhaus. 

New shapes, materials and approaches to construction made Bauhaus proposals stand out. Its architectural designs  were especially known for their avantgarde approach. But many of these bold building plans stayed just that, and were never actually constructed. In collaboration with experts from the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, the collection contains buildings that had only ever existed on paper and in the minds of their creators. 

Together we assembled archival sketches, scribbles and vague descriptions to create augmented reality models of three visionary structures. In the Google Arts & Culture app anyone can now explore “Round House” by Carl Fieger, “BAMBOS” by Marcel Breuer and “Court House” by Eduard Ludwig from inside and outside. 

László Moholy-Nagy, a teacher at the Bauhaus, put it this way: "Design is not a profession, design is an attitude." We hope you’ll see that the Bauhaus attitude is not just everywhere but, through this exhibit, also for everyone. 

From self-portraits to street art: 1,000 museums at your fingertips

The history of art is global. Look at Van Gogh—a Dutchman who spent much of his life in France, and was inspired not only by his contemporaries but also by Japanese artists like Hiroshige. But until recently, the act of enjoying art and culture was limited by geography. Unless you could visit a museum in person, it would be hard for you to appreciate a work, brushstroke by brushstroke. And to fully understand the legacy of someone like Van Gogh, you would have to go from Amsterdam to Chicago to New York to Tokyo to discover and marvel at all of his influences, works and successors.

But with the Google Cultural Institute, it’s all just a few clicks away. Five years ago, the first 17 museums brought online a few hundred artworks so that anyone in the world could explore paintings, records and artifacts no matter where they were. Today, on our fifth birthday, the Google Cultural Institute has grown to include the collections of more than 1,000 museums and cultural institutions, with over 60 new ones added just today.

Starting today, you can descend through the famous rotunda of the Guggenheim museum in New York—a piece of art in itself—thanks to special aerial Street View imagery, or stroll the grand halls of the world’s heaviest building, the Palace of Parliament in Romania. View Monet’s famous water lilies in super-high “gigapixel” resolution and zoom in to see his layered brushstrokes—then visit Monsieur Monet’s real-life garden to see his inspiration.

From “gigapixel” images to Street View inside museums, today’s museums, galleries and theatres are turning to technology to help reach new audiences and inspire them with art and culture. And the possibilities keep expanding with the addition of newer technologies like virtual reality. Just recently we worked with the Dulwich Picture Gallery—England’s oldest public art gallery—to take the young patients of King’s College Hospital in London on a virtual field trip to the museum using Google Cardboard.

Malachi, age 12.jpg
Young patients at King’s College Hospital, London, were the first to experience the Dulwich Picture Gallery in virtual reality

Virtual visits will never replace the real thing. But technology can help open up art and culture to everyone, and we think that’s a powerful thing. As you browse the Google Cultural Institute’s 6 million objects exploring humanity’s diverse heritage across 70 countries—from this prehistoric equivalent of the Swiss Army knife in the Netherlands, to the Taj Mahal in India and manga drawings in Japan—we hope you’ll agree.

Step on stage with the Google Cultural Institute

It takes years of practice to perfect the pirouettes. Months of rehearsal to get the crescendos just right. Multiple stories of lights, rigging and machinery to set the scene. At the world’s leading performing arts venues —like Carnegie Hall, the Berliner Philharmonie, the Bolshoi Theatre—artists, costume designers, musicians, stage crews and many more all come together to create the perfect moment on stage.

And now you can join them. In a new virtual exhibition from the Google Cultural Institute and more than 60 performing arts organizations, you can experience dance, drama, music and opera alongside some of the world’s leading performers—onstage, backstage and with a 360 degree-view of the action.

Google Cultural Institute: Performing Arts

Google Cultural Institute: Performing Arts

The new Performing Arts exhibition gives you a view that’s even closer than a front-row seat in the house. With 360-degree performance recordings, you you can choose a dancer’s-eye view of the crowd, or look down from the stage into the orchestra pit. At the Paris Opera, you can stand in the middle of the largest stage in Europe, surrounded by dancers performing choreographer Benjamin Millepied’s moves. Sit between the woodwinds and strings at Carnegie Hall with a full view of Maestro Nézet-Séguin. Don’t worry if you’re underdressed as you tour the Berliner Philharmoniker’s rehearsal performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9with conductor Sir Simon Rattle—you’ll see the orchestra is not in black tie either.

Clear, Loud, Bright, Forward 360° by Benjamin Millepied

Clear, Loud, Bright, Forward 360° by Benjamin Millepied

Beyond the performance itself, new indoor Street View imagery gives you an all-access backstage pass to the venues. Wander through the wig workshop at Brussels’ opera house, look beneath the stage at the historic underground arches of the Fundação Teatro Municipal in São Paulo, or zoom in on ultra-high resolution Gigapixel costume images at France’s National Centre for Stage Costume, before browsing more than a hundred interactive stories about the shows, the stars and the world behind the scenes. If you’re lucky enough to be planning an in-person visit to one of these venues, you can tour them in Street View first to see where you’ll be sitting, or how the view is from the balcony.

The Google Cultural Institute was founded in 2011 to bring the world’s treasures to anyone with an Internet connection. Starting in partnership with a handful of renowned museums, we’ve since joined forces with 900+ institutions to include historic archivesstreet art, and 200 wonders of the world. Now you can also visit dozens of the world’s stages together in one place—across mobile, tablet and desktop at on the Google Cultural Institute website.

Curtain-up, and let Performing Arts take the stage!