How Google lets you visit the world from the comfort of your seat

Google has accelerated the growth of its online Cultural Institute, adding virtual tours and digital collections of 60 more museums, galleries and other attractions.

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Google has partnered with the Guggenheim in New York for the latest in its series of virtual, browser-based tours, which are designed to open up collections, give more people access and provide rich content experiences.

The Guggenheim is one of 60 cultural institutions which have just been added to Google’s Cultural Institute, where around 1,000 museums and galleries now offer virtual tours and share digitized art collections.

The virtual gallery tours offer walk-around experiences using Google street view technology and allow users to unlock other curated content.

“Virtual visits will never replace the real thing”

Google Cultural Institute director Amit Sood concedes that “virtual visits will never replace the real thing,” but he says: “Technology can help open up art and culture to everyone and we think that’s a very powerful thing.”

He adds: “Museums, galleries and theatres are turning to technology to help reach new audiences and inspire them with art and culture. And the possibilities keep expanding with the addition of newer technologies like virtual reality.

Malachi, age 12

“Just recently we worked with the Dulwich Picture Gallery—England’s oldest public art gallery—to take the young patients of King’s College Hospital in London on a virtual field trip to the museum using Google Cardboard.”

In a similar way Google is looking to provide access to other hard to reach places such as Mont Blanc, which last week became the subject of a new range of interactive experiences.

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You can explore the Mont Blanc Massif here: Google worked with alpine photographers, skiers, mountaineers, climbers, and runners to build Street View mapping of Western Europe’s highest peak.

Documenting history

As well as bringing the mountain to armchair mountaineers the project serves a further cultural purpose in the name of preservation.

Sandy Russell, project lead, Mont Blanc Street View, says: “Unfortunately, Mont Blanc’s glaciers are receding due to climate change. So this Street View imagery also serves as a digital record of Mont Blanc as it appears today, so future outdoor enthusiasts and scientists can look back at this time capsule to see how the mountain has changed.”

“It has helped us reach new audiences”

Tate Britain is already part of the Cultural Institute and a Tate spokeswoman says: “The Google Cultural Institute is a long-standing digital partner of Tate. Through innovation and creativity, it has helped us reach new audiences and spread further the enjoyment of art.”

Other new additions to the Cultural Institute programme include a tour of “the World’s heaviest building” – The Palace of Parliament in Romania and you can find hundreds more examples of virtual tours here.

Google has also experimented with similar projects off of the platform such as Inside Abbey Road, an interactive tour of the recording studios, where you can even mess around with equipment.

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