Culture is more than what you find in museums: Simon Rein, Senior Program Manager, Google Arts & Culture

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Google Arts and Tradition has turned 10. The initiative from Google places museums from internationally at individuals’s fingertips throughout platforms — Net, iOS and Android. The goal is to permit customers discover artwork, historical past, and wonders of the world — from zooming into element in Van Gogh’s work, to taking a digital tour of Delhi’s heritage. The workforce’s newest tasks embrace a instrument that may discover your pet’s lookalike in artwork; and a number of enjoyable, cultural video games, artworks that convey local weather knowledge to life.
As India celebrates 75 years of its independence, Google Arts & Tradition is becoming a member of within the celebrations with a collection of initiatives. On the event, we spoke to Simon Rein, Senior Program Supervisor, Google Arts & Tradition. London-based Rein joined Google in 2013. Earlier than this, he labored on the Prussian Cultural Heritage Basis in public relations for his or her 19 Nationwide Museums in Berlin, and for the Humboldt Discussion board within the Berlin Palace. Within the interview, he talks concerning the Google Arts & Tradition’s journey in India, plans for seventy fifth Independence Day and extra
Q. Inform us extra about this new exhibit you’re launching on India’s seventy fifth Independence Day? What is the goal and motivation behind this launch?
We constructed Google Arts & Tradition to place the world’s cultural treasures at anybody’s fingertips and assist museums and different organisations share extra of our various heritage with the world. As Google Arts & Tradition, we’ve got been partnering with India companions for 10 years now. So it was apparent for us that we need to be part of the celebration of India’s 75 years of Independence. To mark the event, we went past archival storytelling and tried one thing particular: bringing collectively the spheres of archives and artists. We labored with ten Indian artists to inform a number of the most outstanding achievements of the historical past of contemporary India in additional than 120 illustrations. We needed to allow individuals throughout India, and internationally, to be taught extra about India’s journey by means of a few of its defining moments. However we additionally needed it to be interactive and enjoyable. That is why we labored with an Indian quizzer to create the primary Indian crossword puzzle on Google Arts & Tradition.
Q. How has Google Arts and Tradition journey in India been during the last decade?
Over the past ten years, Google Arts & Tradition has showcased India’s wealthy tradition in some ways. This journey began in 2012 when the Nationwide Museum and Nationwide Gallery of Fashionable Artwork joined our platform, and has since continued. We’re proud to have partnered with Indian establishments to convey India’s cultural heritage to individuals all world wide. As we speak, individuals from internationally can discover 2,100 exhibitions supplied by greater than 100 companions in India.
Q. What sort of challenges have you ever encountered whereas coping with museums, curators, and officers, particularly in India?
Certainly, there are at all times some challenges. Every bit of artwork and challenge is totally different and we have to deal with it with respect and discover one of the simplest ways to indicate it. A lot of Indian artwork has a useful cultural heritage courting again to 1000’s of years. Because of this lots of the artefacts are fragile and delicate to gentle and humidity, requiring exceptionally cautious dealing with. That is additionally why we’ve got developed applied sciences that assist meet the problem of preserving these works. Let’s take for instance Artwork Digicam. A lot of the wonder and energy of artwork lives within the particulars. We all know that folks love experiencing artwork in shut element. Thousands and thousands of individuals spend time exploring our ultra-high decision “gigapixel” photos, inch by inch—recognizing one thing new each time. With the Artwork Digicam, museums can digitise these works with the worldwide public whereas making certain they’re preserved for future generations.
Q. What number of museums/institutes are utilizing the Google Arts and Tradition platform in India?
As we speak, individuals from internationally can discover 2,100 exhibitions supplied by over 100 companions in India.
Q. Who’s your greatest viewers in India?
We’re glad that many individuals in India get pleasure from Google Arts & Tradition, as this makes museum visits and cultural archives extra accessible throughout. Some individuals simply cannot go to those locations, some need to take a better have a look at work they noticed, others need to be taught extra at residence about totally different facets of their heritage. It touches on totally different subjects, which additionally permits totally different teams to make use of it in several methods. For instance, we expect that this new assortment ‘India Ki Udaan’ – printed in English and Hindi – could be simply utilized in school rooms and by households to show historical past and tradition about India.
Q. Do you even have any partnerships with the State or Central governments?
Sure, we do. Other than cultural establishments, artists and curators, we accomplice with governments as nicely. In India, we collaborated with the Ministry of Tradition for Crafted in India; with the Ministry of Tourism on the Unimaginable India marketing campaign; and with the Ministry of Railways on Indian Railways.
Q. With respect to your engagement with artwork establishments in India, are you able to speak about any India-specific challenges that the workforce has confronted?
I need to flip your query in the direction of the place I see the large alternative lies for a platform that connects cultural collections from across the globe. Just a few years in the past, I noticed the landmark “India & the World” exhibition at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya in Mumbai. It was wonderful to see millennia of India’s tradition alongside the worldwide context of its time. That is my hope for a cultural platform as nicely – that it permits you to perceive a rustic’s cultural heritage in a wider context. It is also price mentioning that the majority museums can solely show a fraction of their assortment – digital collections make it doable to indicate extra of their holdings throughout museums and borders. Each time I go to India, I am impressed by seeing how museums just like the Nationwide Museum of the Gallery of Fashionable Artwork and so many others are experimenting within the digital house.
Q. Additionally, are there any Indian-specific finest practices/learnings that you’ve taken to different international locations? With Road View in India lastly, how do you see the platform change/evolve?
Tradition is greater than what you discover in museums. You’ll be able to go searching, and see tradition in all places. That is significantly true of India. That is why you discover a theme on Indian Railways on Google Arts & Tradition – you possibly can inform the story of Indian Railways from a cultural angle. And that is why, after we captured the wealthy heritage of crafts in India, we did not simply present the artefacts but additionally went into villages all throughout India to seize the normal processes of how they’re made, and what we will be taught from that at present.
So far as Road View goes – truly this know-how will not be new to us, Google Arts & Tradition was born in 2011 from a 20 p.c challenge. A small group of art-lovers at Google questioned how we might flip our ardour right into a challenge. Empowered by the latest technological improvements in smartphones, cloud storage, ultra-high-resolution digital images, and the synthesis between them, this small group felt compelled to method museums desperate to make their collections extra accessible by means of digitisation, together with Road View of cultural areas. You’ve got seen Road View automobiles and Road View Trekkers, however what concerning the Road View Trolley? That is the one to gather Road View photos indoors, this high-tech pushcart was initially developed in 2009 to offer viewers the expertise of a museum walkthrough. In India, we accomplice with the Archaeological Survey of India to seize its monuments just like the Taj Mahal, or with Heritage Transport Museum to seize the Calcutta tram in 360 diploma imagery.
Now how can we see the platform develop? Lots of our most up-to-date improvements are round easy methods to make your connection participating and enjoyable. We developed digital camera options for the Google Arts & Tradition app like Pocket Gallery, which makes use of Augmented Actuality to create digital museum areas, Artwork Filters to play with, or Pet Portrait, a method to discover your pet’s personal artwork double amongst tens of 1000’s of artworks. We additionally create cultural video games – whether or not it is crosswords or creative jigsaw puzzles – that assist individuals be taught by means of play.
Q. Any particular tenth anniversary plans you’ve got for Google Artwork & Tradition in India?
We hope that the merging of applied sciences and India’s wealthy cultural heritage will present many extra alternatives to share compelling tales, displays and experiences that may be loved by anybody, wherever they is perhaps. As we go ahead, we’ll proceed to work with companions and artists to broaden the ‘India Ki Udaan’ assortment – it is an ongoing initiative for us.


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