Google is offering its Google Cultural Institute software platform to museums around the world so that they can build their own simple and powerful custom mobile apps and offer them to virtual visitors so that their collections can become available to legions of new visitors.
So far, 11 museums and cultural institutions in Italy, France, the Netherlands and Nigeria have worked with Google engineers on the pilot project and made their apps available for free in the Google Play store, according to a recent post on the Google Art Project Google+ page.
"The platform allows museums to create a simple but powerful mobile app, based on Google's technology including Street View and YouTube," wrote Robert Tansley, the product manager for the Google Cultural Institute, in a recent post on the Google Policy Europe Blog. "Without resorting to expensive technical help, museums now can tell their stories."
Museums and other interested institutions can sign up with Google to participate in the program.
The apps that have been created so far can be used by museum visitors to learn more about the stories behind exhibits, wrote Tansley. "These mobile apps allow easy sharing with friends. Because Internet access can be a challenge when traveling abroad, we made sure these apps will work when you're offline."
The 11 museums that built such apps include the Museum of Arts et Métiers in Paris, wrote Tansley. Here, virtual visitors can use the app to see the strange looking plane that is perched over a historic staircase. "Wonder what it is? From today, click on a mobile app based on Google Cultural Institute platform and learn about Clement Adler's 120-year old rival to the Wright Brothers."
In Turin, Italy, apps have been created to "discover the riches of the near and far East at MAO, wonder at the surprising artworks at GAM, and go instantly from the Middle Ages to contemporary photography at Palazzo Madama," wrote Tansley. Also visible through apps are international street artworks and their authors, brought together by the Emergence Festival, he wrote. Another app is also available to allow visitors to stroll through MAGA to find out more about the Italian contemporary art scene, he added.
Apps are also available for exhibits in France that show Marie Curie's office and relive the discovery of radioactivity at the Musee Curie, and of the impressionist collection of the Museum of Le Havre (MuMa) with six audio thematic tours, he wrote.
"The Internet no longer plays just a minor role in diffusing museum knowledge," wrote Tansley of the app creation program. "It has become a major force, allowing museums to expand and strengthen their reach. We look forward to deepening our partnership with museums that see digital media as core to their mission of education and inspiring people about art and culture."