Friday, March 21, 2014

Virtual culture: The Google Cultural Institute

View from the roof of l'Opéra Garnier

Google provides us answers to many of every day questions: how many ounces is 300ml? can I feed my cat milk? can I make cookie cutters out of aluminum foil? are fruit names acceptable to name your human child? (the answer to this one should be no).

But as of 2011, Google also brings us access to hundreds of museums, cultural institutions, and up close photographs of architectural details we'd never be able to see otherwise, from all over the world with the Google Cultural Institute.

This amazing initiative includes three different projects: the Art Project which features over 40,000 high resolution images contributed by museums from over 40 countries, the World Wonders project that allows you to explore modern and ancient sites from all over the world using Street View and 3D modeling; and the Archive Exhibitions, giving you exclusive access to archives of information that museums cannot put on public display (Nelson Mandela’s handwritten prison letters, for example).

While there are tons of photos and different monuments to look at, I'd like to explore the Opéra Garnier in Paris a bit more. The Institute provides over 100 photos of detailed decorations inside the building and allows you zoom into Marc Chagall's painting on the ceiling.

You can also look through two exhibitions provided by the Archive project, as well as visit four different areas of the Opera, including the Opera Library, the inside, and the hidden lake under the building (yes, it exists!). 

Standing on the roof of the Palais Garnier is also possible through Street View, giving you a privileged view onto all of Paris, from Sacre Coeur to the Eiffel Tower, to the Tower of Montparnasse and all the blue Parisian rooftops below.

I invite you to explore the Institute's site and view all the different projects as well.