Tag Archives: Arts and Culture

Mashujaa: Celebrate the communities of Kenya with Google Arts & Culture

Today in Kenya we’re celebrating Mashujaa Day, or National Heroes Day, and honoring the remarkable people who have shaped our nation. We are shining the spotlight on a pantheon of cultural and folk heroes, and how their superpowers continue to be the strength and heartbeat of not only the communities from which they came, but all of Kenya. We need days like these to remind us how our shared heritage and our diversity unites us as people, and it is therefore with great pride that I unveil the second chapter of the online project Utamaduni Wetu: Meet the People of Kenya, created in collaboration with the National Museums of Kenya, Google Arts & Culture and the creative agency Shujaa Stories


Originally launched in 2019, Utamaduni Wetu: Meet the People of Kenya is Google’s most ambitious digitization project to date in Africa, and one of the first digital content features on the subject of Kenyan communities. Everyone can now explore over 10,600 high-resolution photographs, 170 expert-curated exhibits, 80 Street Views of 16 sites and learn more about the intangible heritage and stories of the country’s 44 communities officially registered by the government. The exhibits shine light on the regions, history, traditions, morals, worldview and wisdom of Kenya’s communities, some of whose stories—usually passed on through oral history—have been written down and shared online for the first time.

Today, on Mashujaa Day, I am delighted to announce that we now have at least one superhero for each of our 44 communities, and I invite you to explore their stories on Google Arts & Culture. Originally conceived by the late Masidza Sande Galavu and Jeff Muchina of Shujaa Stories, the first 21 heroes were unveiled at an exhibition at the National Museums of Kenya  and online as part of Utamaduni Wetu: Meet the People of Kenya. Now, thanks to the leadership of Dr. Mzalendo Kibunjia, the Director General of the National Museums of Kenya, a dedicated team of researchers, curators, academics and young creatives has worked to bring 40 more stories to life. They have travelled far to get first-hand knowledge of the communities and passionately researched, documented and illustrated a total of 61 heroes spanning cultures, generations, gender and geography.

The government’s collaboration with Google Arts & Culture has democratised access to Kenya’s rich heritage and enabled more people to discover our culture and human connections in new, exciting and interactive ways. It has also encouraged real-life visits to the country’s museums, monuments and heritage sites.

I encourage you to read each of the stories, and be inspired by the achievements and bravery of each superhero. They are a celebration of the values and the heritage of the peoples of Kenya and of our unity in diversity. I would like to echo the words of the great author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, who said, "The peoples of Kenya have an incredible richness of history and culture. Learning from what we already have, from all the communities, is the way into the world."

Mashujaa: Celebrate the communities of Kenya with Google Arts & Culture

Today in Kenya we’re celebrating Mashujaa Day, or National Heroes Day, and honoring the remarkable people who have shaped our nation. We are shining the spotlight on a pantheon of cultural and folk heroes, and how their superpowers continue to be the strength and heartbeat of not only the communities from which they came, but all of Kenya. We need days like these to remind us how our shared heritage and our diversity unites us as people, and it is therefore with great pride that I unveil the second chapter of the online project Utamaduni Wetu: Meet the People of Kenya, created in collaboration with the National Museums of Kenya, Google Arts & Culture and the creative agency Shujaa Stories


Originally launched in 2019, Utamaduni Wetu: Meet the People of Kenya is Google’s most ambitious digitization project to date in Africa, and one of the first digital content features on the subject of Kenyan communities. Everyone can now explore over 10,600 high-resolution photographs, 170 expert-curated exhibits, 80 Street Views of 16 sites and learn more about the intangible heritage and stories of the country’s 44 communities officially registered by the government. The exhibits shine light on the regions, history, traditions, morals, worldview and wisdom of Kenya’s communities, some of whose stories—usually passed on through oral history—have been written down and shared online for the first time.

Today, on Mashujaa Day, I am delighted to announce that we now have at least one superhero for each of our 44 communities, and I invite you to explore their stories on Google Arts & Culture. Originally conceived by the late Masidza Sande Galavu and Jeff Muchina of Shujaa Stories, the first 21 heroes were unveiled at an exhibition at the National Museums of Kenya  and online as part of Utamaduni Wetu: Meet the People of Kenya. Now, thanks to the leadership of Dr. Mzalendo Kibunjia, the Director General of the National Museums of Kenya, a dedicated team of researchers, curators, academics and young creatives has worked to bring 40 more stories to life. They have travelled far to get first-hand knowledge of the communities and passionately researched, documented and illustrated a total of 61 heroes spanning cultures, generations, gender and geography.

The government’s collaboration with Google Arts & Culture has democratised access to Kenya’s rich heritage and enabled more people to discover our culture and human connections in new, exciting and interactive ways. It has also encouraged real-life visits to the country’s museums, monuments and heritage sites.

I encourage you to read each of the stories, and be inspired by the achievements and bravery of each superhero. They are a celebration of the values and the heritage of the peoples of Kenya and of our unity in diversity. I would like to echo the words of the great author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, who said, "The peoples of Kenya have an incredible richness of history and culture. Learning from what we already have, from all the communities, is the way into the world."

Creativity in a crisis

As the realities of a global pandemic sank in and the UK went into lockdown, children and young people employed their everyday surroundings as inspiration for creativity. Kitchen tables, living room floors and gardens were transformed into art studios. The hand-drawn rainbows that started appearing in windows across England in early spring were one of many signals that young people want to be heard, and that they are able to respond to the current crisis in an artistic way. 


Google Arts & Culture has teamed up with Arts Council England to collect these voices and allow young people to express themselves on a global platform. Arts Council England, dedicated to promoting the performing, visual and literary arts in England, launched The Way I See It at the start of the summer. Working with five cultural organizations, they invited children and young people across the country to stretch their creative muscles as they responded to the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. The partner organizations—English National Opera, BALTIC, Company Three, Dancefest and Heart & Soul—set out challenges such “Lockdown Aria,” “This Is My Statement” and “Half A Minute Movie,” which invited 30-second films inspired by a newly acquired skill.
I was inspired by communities coming together during lockdown and I felt it was a good thing to document what had happened. Ben from Birmingham, age 13

Now, Google Arts & Culture has provided the projects with a permanent digital home. Explore this playful and personal collection of spoken word, film, visual art, photography, music, dance and more created during lockdown, as well as new pieces produced in response to a series of summer challenges. It’s an engaging depiction of life in 2020 as experienced by 170 people aged between 2 and 28 years old. Visit g.co/TheWayISeeIt to explore the whole collection. 

In addition to this collaboration with Arts Council England, Google Arts & Culture has also worked with several European art schools to virtually exhibit their students’ responses to the crisis. For Room with a View, young artists were asked to create a piece of art from or of their window—a fitting symbol, as windows have functioned throughout art history as both barriers and connections to the outside world. Students from Accademia di Belle Arti Bologna, École Camondo, Central Saint Martins, London College of Fashion and Edinburgh College of Art responded with over 150 submissions, ranging from acrylic and oil to video. The final collection has been curated by Amira Gad, Head of Programmes, Light Art Space (LAS), to draw out some common themes like Nostalgia, New Perspectives and Reimagining Spaces. Discover the full collection at g.co/roomwithaview.

A growing hub for Latino cultures on Google Arts & Culture

As a new mother, one of the things I have looked forward to the most is sharing with my daughter the richness of the Latino culture. I grew up with parents that taught me to be proud of my background and shared stories of being a Chicano in LA. However, these days we’re all spending a little more time at home. That’s why I am so excited to share that Google Arts & Culture is expanding its online project celebrating Latino Cultures in the U.S. The hub is a beautifully curated source to learn insights from Latino voices about Latino culture in the U.S.

I plan to take my daughter on a cultural journey around the U.S. guided by more than 50 expert partners—from the Ballet Hispánico in New York, NY to the Museo Eduardo Carillo in Santa Cruz, CA. Along the way, we’ll learn about inspiring individuals, artists, street art, food, activism, dance, movie stars, and more.

Joining for the first time this October is the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, with a spotlight on Puerto Rico’s resilience after Hurricane Maria. I am especially excited to introduce her to courageous and strong Latino individuals who take center stage on the new page. From activist Dolores Huerta to Selena, the “Queen of Tejano Music,” we’re reminded of their enduring contributions to America, from Hollywood to Congress. The project also explores Latino communities rooted in the U.S., from activists and immigrants in Washington, D.C., to the fast-growing Latino population in Richmond, VA.

Also launching for the first time is the permanent collection of the Art Museum of the Americas, a treasure-trove of community stories from the Ballet Hispánico, a mural tour and virtual walkthrough from the Museum of Latin American Art, and a retrospective of Patssi Valdez from the UCLA Chicano Studies and Research Center. Since the initial launch of this platform in 2017, the page has grown to 4,800+ artifacts, 122 stories, and 54 expert partners.

The long history of Latino culture has sparked incredible art. New to Latino art and don’t know where to start? Here’s a list of 25 Latino artists you should know—you can explore more of this history in the stunning images from the Ballet Hispánico’s early performances and in the use of craft to express identity. As for my favorite stories of Latino art, I’m torn between a tour of Chicana murals around Los Angeles and alook at the style of Latinas in Los Angeles.

Joining the celebration are Solimar Salas and Gabriela Urtiaga from the Museum of Latin American art, and Marina Reyes Franco at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico. In a new video, they will guide you through their favorite Latino art, food and fashion as they share what Hispanic Heritage Month means to them.

I can’t wait to share with my daughter the richness and complexity of what it means to be Latino in America. Go on your own journey to learn more about Latino history, contributions and experiences at g.co/latinocultures.

Play with Art Filter to learn about culture

What if you could learn about the story of the Girl with a Pearl Earring while wearing her earrings yourself? Or how about putting on a Japanese helmet to take you back to the time of Samurai traditions? Starting today, you can use “Art Filter” in the Google Arts & Culture app to become an artwork or try on iconic artifacts otherwise safely stored in museums. 


Thanks to our partners who make their amazing collections available online, we were able to create five educational and fun 3D-modelled augmented reality filters based on iconic paintings, objects and accessories from all over the world. Snap a video or image of yourself to become Van Gogh or Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits, or the famous Girl with a Pearl Earring. You can also step deep into history with a traditional Samurai helmet or a remarkable Ancient Egyptian necklace.

In this novel experience, each filter has been crafted carefully so that you can explore the artifacts in high-quality detail from every angle. Before you try on the filter, you’ll also see more about its history and context. 


Our team was guided by Google’s AI Principles to determine how we built this feature for everyone, with social benefit, security, privacy and scientific rigor top of mind. Art Filter applies Machine Learning based image processing because making this kind of AR feature possible needs a sophisticated anchoring of the virtual content to the real world. Through this approach, the artifacts are able to position themselves organically and smoothly on your head or react to your facial expression. Art Filter—similar to the popular Art Selfie feature—runs completely on your device; your videos and photos are not stored unless you choose to save them or share them with friends.  


To get started, open the free Google Arts & Culture app for Android or iOS and tap the rainbow camera icon at the bottom of the homepage. We are looking forward to seeing what creations you make with Art Filter and what you will learn about these artifacts. Share your favorite photos and videos using the hashtag #ArtFilter.

Celebrating the fabric of Indonesia

Today is National Batik Day in Indonesia—and if you’re familiar with this beautiful craft, you know that there’s a lot to celebrate. Batik (meaning to ‘connect the dots’) is an Indonesian technique of wax-resist dyeing whole cloth. A one-meter piece of batik typically takes at least five skilled artisans six months to create, so we know each piece contains a wealth of hard work and emotion. 


To showcase Indonesia’s batik tradition and the stories behind it, Google Arts & Culture, the Jakarta Textile Museum and Galeri Batik YBI are highlighting 1,100 examples of batik (and other Indonesian textile traditions like Ikat, Ulos and Songket) in a new online exhibition.
Batik screens

The exhibition features 23 immersive digital stories, including a tribute to legendary batik makers like Iwan Tirta—who was known to have made more than 10,000 original designs in his lifetime—and Go Tik Swan, who crafted the Batik Indonesia collection to inspire national pride. You can also learn about the Tjoa siblings, whose designs illustrate Indonesia’s diversity, displaying the parang of Java alongside peonies of China and European flower arrangements. 


While batik-makers are craftspeople first, they’re often business owners too. To highlight local batik merchants, the exhibit features work from Pekalongan (also known as ‘Batik City’)— a UNESCO Creative City that’s home to hundreds of artisans and the small businesses that sell their pieces.

Indonesia has been known for its batik since the fourth century but today many of its more than 200,000 batik-makers are grappling with the economic impact of COVID-19. In addition to raising awareness of their extraordinary skill, we want to help the local industry get through the pandemic. For artisans, we’re providing digital skills training so they can take their business online. For teachers, we're providing an integrated, downloadable lesson plan that enables their students to learn about batik-making.


Batik is an ancient craft that deserves to be celebrated and preserved. We hope this new exhibition makes a small contribution to its enduring place in Indonesian and global culture.


Painter and pioneer: Artemisia at The National Gallery

Artemisia Gentileschi didn’t fit the mold of the typical 17th-century Italian gentlewoman. At a time when women had limited opportunities to pursue artistic training, Artemisia forged a career for herself and established an international reputation. 

Thanks to a collaboration with The National Gallery, which is hosting the first major retrospective of Artemisia in the U.K., Google Arts & Culture is bringing Artemisia’s story to life online. The exclusive digital retrospective unites 14 of her incredible works, including The National Gallery’s new acquisition “Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria” and the recently rediscovered “Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy.”
With me your Illustrious Lordship will not lose and you will find the spirit of Caesar in the soul of a woman Artemisia Gentileschi

Artemisia’s incredible skill was not just in her paintwork—it was also in her deeply emotive storytelling. In her hands, the canon of saints and biblical figures became formidable women in charge of their own destinies. 

As a result of new ultra-high resolution photography, the painted ceiling of Marlborough House in London is now available to view in all its minute glory. The grand artwork, “An Allegory of Peace and the Arts,” is thought to have been a joint effort between Artemisia and her father Orazio, also a renowned painter, during their time in London, and is now part of the Royal Collection. The work is not usually accessible to the public, but now you can zoom into the finest brushstrokes and get the same perspective Artemisia had from up on her scaffolding.

Musician FKA twigs lent her voice to a series of Art Zoom films that take you on a guided journey through three iconic Artemisia paintings, highlighting Artemisia’s relevance to women of today and how her legacy informed the art canon. “Mary Magdalene was a major inspiration for my last album and when I learned about the history of the female painter Artemisia Gentileschi, it impacted me,” said FKA twigs. “Artists like her have fought so hard to be recognized that it’s amazing I could help shine a light on her beautiful work.”

The collection of artworks has been brought together from eleven partner museums in six countries. There are more than 30 immersive stories that translate the hidden details of Artemisia's self-portraits, recount her life in Rome and Florence, and investigate her troubled relationship with her father.  

Visit g.co/Artemisia to immerse yourself in Artemisia’s incredible legacy and be inspired by her story.

Travel digitally with Google on World Tourism Day

September 27 is World Tourism Day - a time to celebrate tourism's ability to promote meaningful exchanges between people around the world, have fun, recall how travel helps us all recharge – and make a real difference by supporting livelihoods and protecting our heritage. 

This year may have changed our ability to travel across the globe, but our desire to experience new cultures, see far-off places or discover hidden gems in our own backyard has not diminished. 

Today, Google Arts & Culture has brought together a new collection to help anyone choose their perfect virtual travel with thousands of museums and cultural destinations to explore. And with the help of our partner CyArk, we've launched on Google Search 37 cultural heritage sites from across the world in Augmented Reality (AR). Hop from your couch and search on your mobile phone to bring the Moai statues of Ahu Ature Huki, Rapa Nui (Easter Island), the Brandenburg Gate in Germany, or the Maya pyramid of Chichén Itzá, Mexico right into your living room.

You can read more about what it takes for CyArk to capture just one site in "Documenting the Thomas Jefferson Memorial" and discover how this work helps global conservation efforts communicate the impacts of climate change to iconic places like Rapa Nui.


Continue your journey on Google Arts & Culture

There are plenty more sites to visit virtually: let Google Arts & Culture be your guide to discover some of the world’s most amazing destinations, from the Wonders of Mexico, the USA, France and many more to some amazing city breaks, action-packed adventures and paradise escapes.


Let your favorite creator take you on a tour

Finally, travel like a local, and explore Andalucia with YouTube creator Kikillo, join a virtual walk around Milan with Instagram creator Federica di Nardo, or listen to the sounds of Florence with The Whispering Traveller.


All this, and more than 10,000 destinations and 2,000 collections are ready to be explored on Google Arts & Culture at g.co/culturaltravel. And if Augmented Reality really has you hooked, make sure to check out a few other cool things including Dinosaurs, the Skeletal System and Apollo 11 by looking them up in Google Search.

Travel to Croatia with Google Arts & Culture

Croatia, the country of a thousand islands, is well known for its spectacular beaches and national parks, and as one of the sunniest places in Europe. But it also has a rich cultural history, with one of the highest counts of items on UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Google Arts & Culture partnered with the Croatian National Tourist Board, the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb and the Museum Alka of Sinjto let the world experience the colors and sounds of Croatia. Learn about the local crafts, dance like there is no music, join best-in-class festivals or learn about the national delicacy strukli.

1. The Crafts

Croatia Crafts.jpg

Decorating licitars Photo: Luka Smuk / Croatian National Tourist Board

Toy making from the region of Hrvatsko Zagorje Photo: Julien Duval / Croatian National Tourist Board

It’s the little things that give a place a distinct personality. In virtually every gift shop and souvenir stand in Croatia, the sweet biscuits called licitars are ubiquitous. The bright red, decorated hearts, birds and other shapes aren’t just colorful mementos—they’re part of Croatia’s intangible cultural heritage and a symbol of the country itself. Another tradition that survived centuries is the skill of handcrafting wooden toys. They are ubiquitous to the region, so much that in 2009, the traditional manufacturing of children’s wooden toys in the Hrvatsko Zagorje region of Croatia was inscribed to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Check out the whole toy-making process.

2. The Fashion

Croatia Fashion.jpg

Ljelja singing Photo: Ivo Biočina / Croatian National Tourist Board

Slavonika beret Photo: LFP Studio / Croatian National Tourist Board

When people think of the cultural heritage of Croatia, they often look to centuries-old traditions being kept alive by a small handful of practitioners. Croatia is vibrant with colors and traditional regional costumes, from Dalmatia’s floral handkerchiefs to Gorjani’s hats literally made out of flowers. Historical men’s fashion includes Alkar lancers, whose dark blue uniforms and plumes in their hats will take you back in time to the Ottoman Empire. And for an unforgettable celebration of color, there is nothing quite like the Rijeka Carnival.  A new wave of young Croatian designers is taking inspiration from the country’s rich history of folk arts and crafts and applying it to contemporary fashion and accessories. See herehow Croatian crafts are influencing today’s design and fashion.

3. The Festivals

Croatia Festivals.jpg
Lastovo Poklad festival with firecrackers: photographer: Stjepan Tafra / Croatian National Tourist Board

Bell ringers festival Photographer: Ivan Vranjić / Croatian National Tourist Board

Croatia is rich in music festivals, historic reenactments and religious festivities. Throughout the year, but especially in the spring and summer, annual festivities celebrate Croatia’s local, regional and national traditions. There is the loud and empowering Bell Ringers’ Pageant in Kastav, a historic Alka Tournament in Sinj, the beautifully costumed Spring Procession of Ljelje and the hilarious donkey race in Tribunj. On the opposite side of the country, on far-off Korčula Island, the locals cultivate the saber dance, a choreographed mock sword battle between two kings fighting for the love of a princess—quite a spectacle to see!

4. The Places

Drywall on Kaprije island _ Croatian National Tourist Board _ Photo_ Ivo Pervan.jpg

Dry stone wall on Kaprije island Photo: Ivo Pervan

Though Croatia is full of beautiful beaches and vibrant cities, the country’s foundations rest on dry stonewalls, which dates as far back as the 9th century BCE. That was when the ancient Liburnians began to erect defensive hill forts and walls using stone but no mortar or other binding material. They were such good builders that remnants of these constructions remain even today. Bavljenac Island has the densest concentration of dry stone walls, and when viewed from above it looks like a giant fingertip

Curious to see more? Stroll around these top five locations and immerse yourself in the lush naturescapes of the country. Alternatively, check out g.co/travelcroatia, download the Android or iOS app or visit Google Arts & Culture. Uživaj!


Art Zoom: Music superstars take you on a global cultural tour

The common thread between J.Balvin,Ellie GouldingFKA twigs, Grimes, Matty Healy from The 1975 and Chaeyoung from TWICE beyond being global music icons? They’re all starring in the new season of Google Arts & Culture’s Art Zoom series, which takes viewers on a guided tour of some of the world’s most famous masterpieces through the narration of famous musicians. Through Google’s “gigapixel” Art Camera—a robotic camera custom-made to create the highest possible resolution images of paintings—you can zoom into an artwork at brushstroke-level detail and explore its hidden depths.

This second season, our musical guides invite you to embark on a world tour across art history starting from the European Renaissance with Bruegel’s daunting vision of hell to Botero’s modern Colombia and Youngkuk’s Korean mountains. 

  • Journey through Renaissance Belgium with Grimes, who takes us on a lively exploration of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s “The Fall of Rebel Angels”—an apocalyptic yet comic vision of monsters invading Earth as angels struggle to repel them.

  • Join FKA twigs’ expedition to brighter spaces as she takes on Artemisia Gentileschi’s “Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy.” She observes Mary Magdalene as she appears to enjoy a moment of peaceful oblivion. 

  • Explore love, peace and calm with Ellie Goulding through her musings on “escapism” in Julie Mehretu’s piece to “strength” with Yves Klein and “chaos” with Cy Twombly.

  • Fast forward in time with Matty Healy to the 20th century. Starting in Italy, we dive into Piet Mondrian’s “Grande composizione A con nero, rosso, grigio, giallo e blu.” Healy sees this abstract masterpiece as an “infinite portal” of interpretations, taking us beyond the real world into the corners of our mind.

  • Transport to Medellin, Colombia with J.Balvin, who shares the untold story behind Fernando Botero’s “July 20th.” Beyond the joyful colors, he sheds light on the gloomy faces of the painting’s characters, and the role of art as a safe space in dark times. 

  • Travel to Korea, with TWICE lead-singer Chaeyoung hiking to the top of Yoo Youngkuk’s “Mountain,” where she questions his interpretation of nature, one made of strong colors, shades, flowy lines and touchable textures.

Ready for more? Check out the first season featuring Jarvis Cocker and Feist to Maggie Rogers, Lolo Zouaï and Girl in Red. Explore Art Zoom online at g.co/ArtZoom, or download our free app on Android or iOS.