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.”
Google Helping Museums Share Their Collections Using Mobile Apps
The Google Cultural Institute is involved in many efforts to bring history alive for online viewers around the world.
In September, the Google Cultural Institute and the Alvar Aalto Foundation in Finland announced a partnership that is now highlighting many examples of the works of the late Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. Aalto, who died in May 1976 at age 78, left behind many spectacular designs in architecture, furniture, glassware and even textiles, inspiring new generations of designers and showcasing clever and innovative products.
In July, the renovation and rebirth of England’s Bletchley Park, which during World War II served as the home of a historic code-breaking center that helped bring about the eventual Allied victory in 1945, was featured in an online exhibit. After the war, the facility was left to decay and rot. Now, through the help and contributions of Google and others, Bletchley Park is undergoing a renaissance and has become a museum that is showing off the code-breaking technologies that were done there and that helped win the war.
Exhibits in the museum at Bletchley Park are available online through the Google Cultural Institute. The digital exhibit features material from Bletchley Park’s Archives, providing a vivid snapshot of the work that went on cracking secret messages and the role it played in shortening the war, according to Google.
In June, Google’s Cultural Institute commemorated the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion on the Normandy coast in France with a series of special online exhibits to illustrate the emotions, power and destruction of an epic and successful World War II battle that likely changed the course of the war. The online exhibits include an in-depth look into the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944, featuring some 470 new documents and images.
The Google Cultural Institute, established in 2010 to help preserve and promote culture online, makes important cultural material available and accessible to everyone, and digitally preserves it to educate and inspire future generations. It has been actively adding to its growing collections.
In April 2014, the Institute began offering virtual tours of the opulent Palais Garnier opera house in Paris using Google Street View images to showcase the beautiful and grand opera house, which has been hosting performances since it opened in 1875.
In December 2013, Google gave small art galleries around the world their first big chance to show off the lovely artwork within their walls by using Google Open Gallery, an online service that lets gallery owners display their collections to online visitors. The Google Open Gallery is also available to individuals who have fascinating art collections and would like to showcase them.