Tag Archives: Culture

India’s mini-masterpieces brought to life with AI and AR

Miniature paintings are among the most beautiful, most technically-advanced and most sophisticated art forms in Indian culture. Though compact (about the same size as a small book), they typically tackle profound themes such as love, power and faith. Using technologies like machine learning, augmented reality and high-definition robotic cameras, Google Arts & Culture has partnered with the National Museum in New Delhi to showcase these special works of art in a magical new way.

Virtually wander the halls of a special ‘pocket gallery’

Inspired by the domes and doorways that punctuate Indian homes and public spaces, this is the first AR-powered art gallery designed with traditional Indian architecture. Using your smartphone, you can open up a life-size virtual space, walk around at your leisure and zoom into your favorite pieces—you have this beautiful museum to yourself! 

The first AR-powered art gallery inspired by the domes and doorways of India.

Art meets AI, with  Magnify Miniatures

Miniatures are rich in detailed representations of topics that have shaped Indian culture. Thanks to machine learning, you can now discover these attributes across a collection of miniature paintings. Select from tags like ‘face’, ‘animal’, or even ‘moustache’, and see where these features occur!

Take a closer look with immersive in-painting tours 

Art Camera, our ultra-high-resolution robotic camera, was deployed to produce the most vivid images of masterpieces ever seen. Using these images, we’ve created over 75 in-painting tours to help you stop and appreciate details like wisps of smoke from firecrackers, or see how finesse and variety of every person’s attire in this royal procession—flourishes that you wouldn’t be able to see well with the naked eye.

You can zoom in to see the wisps of smoke in this miniature titled "Lady Holding a Sparkler"

Explore thousands of rich stories and images 

The virtual collection includes 1,200 high resolution images from 25 collections all around the world and more than 75 stories, depicting scenes that include legendary marriage processions, the joy of being among nature, or epic battles. Curious minds,  students and families will find playful and educational ways to enjoy the world of Indian miniatures, such as an interactive coloring book

We’re glad that through the power of technology, people all over the world can engage with these miniature masterpieces like never before.

Posted by Simon Rein, Program Manager, Google Arts & Culture

A digital exhibit to elevate Indigenous art

In March 2020, the 22nd Biennale of Sydney opened to wide acclaim—only to close after 10 days because of COVID-19. The Biennale has since physically reopened to limited audiences, but now, through a virtual exhibit on Google Arts & Culture, people all over the world can experience it.
This year’s Biennale is led by First Nations artists, and showcases work from marginalised communities around the world, under the artistic direction of the Indigenous Australian artist, Brook Andrew. It’s titled NIRIN—meaning “edge”—a word of Brook’s mother’s Nation, the Wiradjuri people of western New South Wales.
To commemorate the opening of this unique exhibition, and learn more about its origins and purpose, we spoke with Jodie Polutele, Head of Communications and Community Engagement at the Biennale of Sydney.

Tell us about the theme of this year’s exhibition. 
NIRIN is historic in its focus on the unresolved nature of Australian and global colonial history. It presents the work of artists and communities that are often relegated to the edge and whose practices challenge dominant narratives.
As a community, we’re at a critical point in time where the voices, histories and spheres of knowledge that have been historically pushed to “the edge” are being heard and shared. The recent Black Lives Matter protests in the United States and in other parts of the world have triggered a belated awakening in many people—particularly in Australia—about the real-life impacts of systemic racism and inequality. But we have a long way to go, and the art and ideas presented in NIRIN are one way to start (or continue) the conversation.
What does this offer audiences, both in Australia, and all over the world, particularly during this time? 
Many of the artworks ask audiences to be critical of dominant historical narratives, and our own perspective and privilege; we are forced to recognise and question our own discomfort. In doing so, they also present an opportunity to inspire truly meaningful action.
What are some of the highlights of the exhibition? 
Some highlights include Healing Land, Remembering Country by Tony Albert, a sustainable greenhouse which raises awareness of the Stolen Generations and poses important questions about how we remember, give justice to and rewrite complex and traumatic histories. Latai Taumoepeau’s endurance performance installation on Cockatoo Island explores the fragility of Pacific Island nations and the struggle of rising sea levels and displacement. Zanele Muholi’s three bodies of work at the Museum of Contemporary Art look at the politics of race, gender and sexuality. Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens’ installation A Dickensian Circus presents a dramatic collection of objects inside the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ grand vestibule, reclaiming the space to share the hidden stories and histories of Indigenous people.
Tony Albert's sustainable greenhouse posing important questions about historical and intergenerational trauma
This virtual exhibit was not what you originally imagined. Can you tell us what hurdles you have had to overcome? 
The Biennale of Sydney takes more than two years to produce with a team of dedicated people. Closing the exhibitions and cancelling or postponing a program of more than 600 events was devastating. But with the enormous support of the Google Arts & Culture team, we have delivered a virtual exhibition that is respectful of artists’ works and conveys the true vision of NIRIN—inspiring conversation and action through a meaningful arts experience. We hope that NIRIN on Google Arts & Culture will be an enduring legacy for the exhibition, and also for the talented team who made it happen.
Watch Latal Taumoepeau's endurance performance, The Last Resort 

Stay "connected to culture" on International Museum Day

Culture is the glue that connects us, even when we can’t be together. Right now people around the world are learning, exploring and finding joy in unexpected places and things, and cultural organizations everywhere are responding with new ways of staying connected to audiences digitally.
Supporting cultural organizations online
To mark this year's rather unusual International Museum Day, together with the International Council of Museums, we’re supporting cultural organizations to continue their cultural programs online with our multi-language resource “Connected to Culture.” It has been inspiring and humbling to see creative cultural organizations from around the globe reimagining the way people interact with art and culture, and adapting to the virtual world. Together, they’re helping to keep our communities connected through shared, digitized cultural moments.
Launching new things to explore for everyone 
Also today, more than 80 museums from over 25 countries are sharing new collections and stories on Google Arts & Culture, joining over 2000 partners already onboard. Discover the Beijing Contemporary Art Foundation (China), Parsons School of Design (USA), Meiji Jingu Forest - Festival of Art (Japan), Patronato Ruta de la Amistad A.C (Mexico) or the Casa Buonarroti (Italy). Together, they contribute 250 new stories and over 10,000 artworks as well as virtual Street View tours to exciting places such as the sacred grounds of the Meiji Shrine in Japan.
Meet the photographers who are revolutionizing the world of fashion through joyful images.
Zoom into the world of Kandinsky in his painting, “Hard in Soft”
Today we’re Mad Hatters! Explore the natural materials used to make your favorite hats.
Zoom into the genius of Michelangelo, to discover his unique military sketches.
Why the long faces? Find out the history of these 1,000 year old figurines

Specifically from India, learn about the crafts from Uttarakhand like Aipan and Ringaal, and young grassroot innovators who created 'word counting pen' to 'portable climbers' from Kashmir with Project FUEL. Scroll back to the story of 200 year old printing presses from Kolkata, or how trade influenced textile designs with Museum of Art & Photography. Or sit back and discover artworks on stone and driftwood with Siddhesh Memorial Foundation for Art -- can you make your own?

Offering tools to teachers and parents
To support teachers, parents, and curious minds throughout this period of quarantine, we’ve launched new educational content—from the Family Fun on Google Arts & Culture hub, to lesson plans, and virtual field trips with digital skills lessons.
11 “Learn Anywhere” lesson plans, written by education experts at Lexicon Learning, help to dive into a wide range of themes on Google Arts & Culture. If you’re interested in how the Bauhaus school is still influencing design today, or whether dinosaurs are still alive, check out the free to download lesson plans on TES.
29 new educational virtual field trips on Google Arts & Culture lead you to famous places like Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, the CERN tunnel, where scientists research the beginning of our universe, or Kenya to learn about the cradle of humankind.
Looking to explore the world from home and boost your digital skills? With new lessons from Applied Digital Skills - Grow with Google’s free, online digital skill curriculum - students can learn practical digital skills while virtually exploring art, historic events, and iconic figures on Google Arts & Culture. These five video-based lessons help students use GSuite tools to make pixel art inspired by Frida Kahlo, create a quiz on the Palace of Versailles for family and friends, and more!
Google Arts & Culture is now also featured in Teach from Home, an online website that many teachers and parents have sought ideas and inspiration from during the past weeks.

For many art lovers, culture vultures, creators and curators, the idea of spending International Museum Day at home may not be a familiar one but we hope these new additions to Google Arts & Culture will inspire you to explore and learn more about arts and culture, with the whole family while at home.
Posted by Liudmila Kobyakova, Program Manager, Google Arts & 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:

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.

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.

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.