Virtual. Culture.

A friend recently lamented, “I haven’t been inside a museum in months.”

It’s only one more collateral effect of this global mire we’re all living through. Museums have been shuttered, and exhibitions have been cancelled. Since March most of the world’s art and culture has been on hold. Or on Zoom.

But in another odd twist of forced discovery, this pandemic has focused attention on an easily overlooked project from one of the world’s largest corporations. Thanks to Covid-19 the Google Arts & Culture project has gone from near obscurity to “killer app” almost overnight. Partnering with some of the world’s most famous museums (and a few not so famous) the non-profit effort provides technology to digitize and publish collections for free.

Google Arts & Culture is a non-profit initiative. We work with cultural institutions and artists around the world. Together, our mission is to preserve and bring the world’s art and culture online so it’s accessible to anyone, anywhere.

A few of the partner collections available.

Online tours are available by collection, genre, artist and more. But we’re not talking about a simple slideshows or gallery walk-through. Some of this content has leveraged technology so well it verges on art itself. Consider this example of Blob Opera, where the exhibit allows actual human voices to be manipulated by visitors:

While the experience is available via your web browser, the Google Arts & Culture mobile app takes it to a whole new level. Like hang the Mona Lisa in your own living room for starters? Available for Android or iOS here are a few highlights:

  • Art Transfer – Take a photo and transform it with classic artworks
  • Art Selfie – Discover portraits that look like you
  • Color Palette – Find art by using the colors of your photo
  • Art Projector – See how artworks look in real size
  • Pocket Gallery – Wander through immersive galleries and get up close to art
  • Art Camera – Explore high-definition artworks
  • 360° videos – Experience culture in 360 degrees
  • Virtual reality tours – Step inside world-class museums
  • Street View – Tour famous sites and landmarks

There’s no doubt this pandemic has me searching for silver linings wherever they may be. But it’s especially nice to find something that will have a lasting impact. I for one plan to enjoy Google Arts & Culture long after Covid-19 is just a terrible, distant memory.

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