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Wonders of Malta and Google Street View to enrich Malta’s digital profile

Wonders of Malta and Google Street View to enrich Malta’s digital profile

The reasons people travel haven’t changed much over the years. But how we look for information, about where we’ll go or what the local customs are has increasingly moved online. Google Trends tells us that the majority of tourism-related search queries are general–things like hotels or transportation options. But in Malta, called the “Gem of the Mediterranean,” as much as 43% of total tourism-related queries are focused on cultural attractions, historical sights, and famous buildings.

This kind of demand for information doesn’t just help Malta’s visitors find what they’re looking for–it has become a concrete opportunity for local tourism businesses and for cultural institutions to grow their audiences online.

There’s more. According to a soon-to-be-released report “The Impact of Online Content on European Tourism” carried out by Oxford Economics for Google in Southern European countries, clear and accessible online information can power growth in local economies. This in turn leads to new job creation and further GDP growth. This is particularly true and relevant for countries like Malta where tourism remains a significantly important economic sector, accounting for up 26% of the national GDP.

With this in mind we worked with Heritage Malta to create the “Wonders of Malta” project on Google Arts & Culture. This is a unique collection offering viewers from across the world the opportunity to experience the most spectacular collection of Maltese treasures all in one place, at g.co/wondersofmalta.

From your smartphone or PC you can now walk across the Ġgantija Temples, the oldest, free-standing monument in the world, or immerse yourself in the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, considered one of world’s most important prehistoric monuments. In a few taps on your smartphone you can move to Valletta and visit the National Museum of Archaeology and its rich collections. The Wonders of Malta project is made of more than 600 new assets, including photos, videos and other documents, 13 super-high resolution “gigapixel” images, more than 35 new exhibits, as well as 28 cardboard tours that will guide users through the diversity and richness of the Maltese culture.

That’s not all. After driving more than 2,500 kilometres across all of Malta and Gozo and taking thousands of 360 degree pictures of many locations, starting today we are also making Street View available in Malta. Users can get an immersive look at the maltese natural landscape, cultural and historic sites, including heritage and touristic attractions, from Valletta to St. Julian’s and Victoria as well as many others, through panoramic street-level images.  Organisations and businesses can also benefit from the Street View technology. The street-level imagery of the location in fact can help them promote and increase awareness of their business – whether it’s a restaurant, hotel, local attraction or any other point of interest.

Street View Malta
Street View in Malta

Whether you’re a student looking to improve your digital skills, or a visitor interested in knowing more about Malta, with the help of Google technologies and platform and the great contents provided by our partners we believe we are contributing positively not only to Malta’s digital profile but to the further development of its cultural and economic life. 

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Posted by amiller in Arts & Culture, Blog, Google in Europe
We wear culture: Discover why we wear what we wear with Google Arts & Culture

We wear culture: Discover why we wear what we wear with Google Arts & Culture

Are you wearing jeans today? Is there a floral tie or a black dress hanging in your wardrobe? Remember those platform shoes from the ‘90s? These have one thing in common: They all tell a story, sometimes spanning hundreds of years of history.

As the legendary Vogue editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland once said, “You can even see the approaching revolution in clothes. You can see and feel everything in clothes.” That’s one reason we’re excited to unveil “We wear culture,” a new project on Google Arts & Culture that brings you the stories behind the clothes you wear.

More than 180 museums, fashion institutions, schools, archives and other organizations from the fashion hubs of New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, São Paulo and elsewhere came together to put three millennia of fashion at your fingertips. You can browse 30,000 fashion pieces: try searching for hats and sort them by color or shoes by time. In 450+ exhibits, you can find stories from the ancient Silk Road to the ferocious fashion of the British punk. Or meet icons and trendsetters like Coco Chanel, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent or Vivienne Westwood.

We’ve also created virtual reality films bringing to life the stories of iconic pieces. Step inside the places where fashion history lives on YouTube or with a virtual reality viewer:

There’s more to clothes than meets the eye. See how shoemakers, jewellers, tie-dyers and bag-makers master their crafts through generations, turning design sketches and tailoring patterns into clothes you can wear. Zoom into ultra-high resolution images made with our Art Camera and see the craftsmanship in unprecedented detail, like this famous Schiaparelli evening coat, a surrealist drawing turned into a bold fashion statement. Step inside the world’s largest costume collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Conservation Laboratory in 360 degrees, and see what it takes to preserve these objects for future generations. Explore the machinery that keeps one of the largest industries in the world in motion and meet the communities that are built on the production of textiles, like the Avani Society in India.

We also teamed up with YouTube star Ingrid Nilsen to go through the wardrobe and discover even more stories behind the clothes you wear today. Before you hide under your hoodie or put on a pair of ripped jeans, hop over to our YouTube channel to take a closer look at the historic thread running through today’s fashions.

“We wear culture” is now live and online at g.co/wewearculture and through the Google Arts & Culture mobile app on iOS and Android. With this project, the world of fashion joins more than a thousand institutions of art and history that share their collections on Google Arts & Culture, letting you explore even more of our culture in one place. Click away and you’ll see how fashion is stitched into the fabric of our societies. And join in the conversation on social media with #WeWearCulture!

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Posted by amiller in Arts & Culture, Blog, Google VR
Searching for art just got better. Where will you start?

Searching for art just got better. Where will you start?

While some are drawn to the strong brushstrokes of Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, others prefer gazing at the gilded glory of Klimt’s The Kiss, but one thing is certain: people love art. In fact, each month, there are more than 500 million art-related searches on Google. Now whether you’re a casual fan or a true culture vulture, Google can help you become an art expert. Starting today, when you search for art-related things, you’ll have access to more relevant results and the ability to dive deeper into topics of interest. We’ve also added a new feature in Street View (think digital museum guide!) that gives you key insights about the artworks on your virtual museum visits.

Explore more art right from Google Search

To help make your search for art a masterpiece, the Google Arts & Culture team joined forces with Google Search engineers to improve how our systems understand and recognize artworks, the places you can see them in person, the artists who made them, the materials they used, the art period they belong to and the connections among all these.

Now when you search an artist like Gustav Klimt, you’ll see an interactive Knowledge Panel that will highlight ways you can explore on a deeper level, like seeing a collection of the artist’s works or even scrolling through the museums where you can view the paintings on the wall. And for some pieces, you can click through to see picture-perfect high-resolution imagery right from Google Arts & Culture.

searching for art

Google Arts & Culture, your virtual museum guide

You can visit hundreds of museums around the world right from your laptop with Google Maps and Google Arts & Culture. And starting today your virtual Street View tour is more informative on desktop and in the Chrome browser on mobile. Now as you walk through the rooms of the museums on Google Maps you’ll see clear and useful annotations on the wall next to each piece. Clicking on these annotations will bring you to a new page with more information provided by hundreds of the world’s renowned museums. You’ll also be able to zoom into high-resolution imagery—getting you closer to these iconic works than you ever thought possible.

To create this feature, we put our visual recognition software to work. Similar to how machine learning technology in Google Photos allows you to search for things in your gallery, this software scanned the walls of participating museums all over the world, identifying and categorizing more than 15,000 works.

Searching for art just got better. Where will you start?

Discovering the art world has never been easier on Google, and we hope this inspires you to brush up on your art knowledge. So take a moment. Dive in. Who knows—with a stroke of luck, you may find yourself drawn…to art!

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Posted by amiller in Arts & Culture, Blog, Maps, Search
Preserving digital art: How will it survive?

Preserving digital art: How will it survive?

For millennia, people have created art—in media ranging from paint on cave walls to metal or stone sculpture to computer-generated images, sound and motion. In recent years, many have made an effort to digitize physical art in an effort to preserve it for future generations and make it accessible to a wider audience. And many contemporary artists have produced creative works using digital media, to be experienced completely online. Yet while the cave paintings in Lascaux are an incredible 20,000 years old, it isn’t clear whether digitized images of that art—or any digital art created today—will last 20 years, let alone 20,000.

That’s because digital art requires readers and, often, software in order to to be viewed, heard or experienced. And as software, browsers, and files either update versions or become obsolete, both digital art—art produced by means of computers and software—and digitized art—reproduced or copied art, rendered in digital form from original physical media—are at risk of disappearing.

Contrary to common belief that “bits don’t die,” obsolescence is a real threat to digital art—and a major challenge as its use continues to increase. Just as preservationists have identified ways to extend the life of pigment, canvas and stone, solutions must be found to assure the longevity of digital works or they may prove to be even less resilient than their physical counterparts.

It’s with this in mind that Google Arts & Culture has partnered with Rhizome to help in the preservation of digital art. Rhizome grew out of the blossoming web-artist community of the mid-1990s, and is now a thriving nonprofit in New York City. They’ve developed unique tools which preserve digital artworks and allow them to viewed long after their complex, software foundations have become obsolete.

Rhizome’s tools are already preserving a growing number of digital-born artworks, and together we’re making them accessible online for free. You can explore these works starting today on Google Arts & Culture, including exhibits on 20-year-old landmark computer games for girls, how the design of early Internet browsers organized user interaction, and the “first Instagram masterpiece?

Last month, Google Arts & Culture brought together key researchers in preservation, curation and computer science along with digital artists for an event in London to examine the current state of digital art preservation. Starting with a keynote conversation between me and Dragan Espenschied, Rhizome’s preservation specialist, panelists spoke on topics ranging from distribution and preservation of artistic software to community-based preservation.

Vint Cerf Digital Art

As we witness physical works of art destroyed by war and the passage of time around the world, we know how important preservation is. The same is true for creative expressions online—and we must look for new solutions together.

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Posted by amiller in Arts & Culture, Blog, digital art, google arts and culture, google cultural institute, art preservation, Google in Europe

The grand tour of Italy: traveling through the past and present to define our future

Italian culture—art, architecture, music and food—have made Italy great in the eyes of the rest of the world. Have you ever wondered how these Italian masterpieces from the past have shaped today’s present, and how they can continue to be a source of inspiration in the future?

Three hundred years ago, Italy’s “Grand Tour” was a journey made mainly by wealthy young people from Venice to Sicily, going through Tuscany, Rome or Naples, to discover the legacy of classical art and Renaissance Masterpieces. Europe’s upper class families made a tradition of sending their sons and daughters to explore  the country’s artwork to inspire a love of culture and creativity. Today Google brings this journey back to life, but this time we’re making it available to everyone, everywhere.

We’ve  reinterpreted the The Grand Tour of Italy on Google Arts & Culture through vivid exhibits and storytelling from partners including the Comitato Giovani della Commissione Nazionale Italiana for UNESCO, Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia—Museo Correr and Cà RezzonicoAccademia dei Fisiocritici, Consorzio per la Tutela del Palio di Siena, Outdoor Project, and the Teatro Massimo in Palermo. Working together, and with a little help from Google’s technology, we’re proud to present The Grand Tour of Italy, which explores four cities in five Cardboard tours, 25 videos, 21 Street View tours, 38 digital exhibitions and 1300+ images.

People everywhere can embark on a digital trip from Venice to Palermo, going through Siena and Rome to see some of the cultural treasures of Italy, experience timeless traditions, take a closer look at masterpieces in ultra-high resolution and discover Italian innovations that have changed the modern world.

Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the Festa del Redentore, find out about its origins and history, or usingsimple Google Cardboard, you can experience the magic of the Redentore fireworks display with a 360° virtual tour. Enjoy the excitement of a tradition that shapes the life of an entire city, and experience the preparation for the Palio di Siena, as if you were right there. In one click, you can go to Pienza and discover how a small town with a population of around 3,000 created a new approach to town planning, later used in laying out larger modern cities. Take a virtual walk around Rome and stop to look at the statue of Pasquino, hear the story of the talking statues and the “Pasquinate”, the forerunner of today’s social media. Go into the Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele of Palermo, the largest opera theatre in Italy and one of the largest in Europe. It used to be exclusively for the city’s upper class, but now everyone can enjoy it.

Our digital journey continues to Venice (and in the coming months in Siena, Rome and Palermo), where we’ll help residents of the city prepare cities for a digital future. Free seminars and workshops organized with our partners will help spread digital skills among citizens and make sure the younger generations are ready to take advantage of the opportunities offered by technology.

If you’re in Venice, come and see us from May 19-21 at the Arsenale Nord, Tesa 94 (from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.) to discover how these fascinating stories come to life. If not, don’t miss the chance to discover more about the project and download Google Art & Culture app on Android and iOS!

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Posted by amiller in Arts & Culture, Blog, Google in Europe
Journey into space with women astronauts and “Dot of Light”

Journey into space with women astronauts and “Dot of Light”

“I could just look at this beautiful landscape of shiny little dots and this black background and think about all the worlds that could be out there waiting for me to discover them.”

So says astronaut Anousheh Ansari in “Dot of Light,” a new film from writer and director Eliza McNitt, produced in collaboration with Google.

“Dot of Light” tells the story of three women and their pioneering journeys to outer space, using archival footage alongside intimate interviews with Kathryn D. Sullivan, Nicole Stott and Anousheh Ansari. The film incorporates footage captured with Pixel, and is part of a collaboration between McNitt and Google that also includes new limited edition Live Case designs inspired by women astronauts and our collective dream of travelling beyond the stars.

Watch the film above to travel out of this world and see the Earth from space—and through the eyes of these notable women.

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Posted by amiller in Arts & Culture, Blog, Pixel
The Ghent Altarpiece: how we digitized one of the most influential artworks of all time

The Ghent Altarpiece: how we digitized one of the most influential artworks of all time

Some 600 years ago, the Van Eyck brothers created one of the first large-scale oil paintings: “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb.” Due to its pioneering attention to detail and realistic portrayal of people, the “Ghent Altarpiece” is renowned as one of the most influential paintings ever made and a defining artwork that represents the start of the Northern Renaissance.

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As such an important symbol in art history, the altarpiece has long been highly sought after and widely coveted. Since 1432, when it was first installed at Saint Bavo Cathedral in what’s now Belgium, the Altarpiece has survived 13 crimes. Looted, burned and torn apart, it’s been through the hands of multiple armies, including those of Napoleon and the Nazis.

After World War II, the Monuments Men—a group set up by the Allied armies to protect cultural heritage from the Nazis—brought it back to its original home in Ghent, Belgium. One of the panels—“The Just Judges”—is still missing following its theft in 1934. Its absence remains one of the most intriguing riddles in art history.

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Archives documenting the Altarpiece’s rescue at the end of WWII from the collection of Lukas – Art in Flanders.

Now, the freshly renovated exterior panels of the Altarpiece can be explored in ultra-high resolution on Google Arts & Culture. Thanks to a partnership with the online image library of Flemish art heritage Lukas – Art in Flanders and the Cathedral of Saint-Bavo, we’ve digitized this masterpiece for future generations to explore in unprecedented detail.

Mystic Lamb Altarpiece

Our robotic Art Camera took about 4,000 high-resolution close-ups of the artwork and used those to create the highest ever resolution image ever made of the panels. You can zoom as much as you’d like into more than 8 billion pixels.

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Art Camera digitizing one of the 10 exterior panels of the Altarpiece

Discover amazing details, revealed by the panels’ recent renovation: for example, a charming view of medieval Ghent which used to be barely visible. Now you can even make out the lines of the book Mary is reading.

Altarpiece_detail.png

This is one of the latest efforts by Google Arts & Culture to provide institutions with the tools to digitally preserve their collections and make cultural heritage more accessible to everyone.

Explore the adventurous past and rescue of the Altarpiece today—and download Google Art & Culture app on iOS or Android for a daily dose of culture.

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Posted by amiller in Arts & Culture, Blog, Google in Europe
See Our Latest Data Center Murals

See Our Latest Data Center Murals

Last May, we announced the Data Center Mural Project, a partnership with artists to bring a bit of the magic from the inside of our data centers to the outside. Two artists in Oklahoma and Belgium created murals that celebrate both the work that happens inside the buildings and the communities where the data centers reside.Today, we’re excited to unveil our next two data center murals.In Council Bluffs, Iowa, painter Gary Kelley’s mural shows how Council Bluffs has served as a hub of information for centuries. Ideas have always flowed through the region, from Lewis and Clark to the Transcontinental Railroad, and now the data center in Council Bluffs is helping bring the internet to people all over the world. In Dublin, Ireland, illustrator Fuchsia MacAree was inspired by how Ireland’s unique climate and fresh air, rather than mechanical cooling, regulates the temperature of Google’s data center. She’s created a series of whimsical murals depicting a windy day in Dublin, including scenes from local landmarks like Grand Canal Square, Phoenix Park and Moore Street Market.Check out photos and videos of all the data center murals at g.co/datacentermurals.

The panels of the mural in Council Bluffs chronicle its people and history. From right to left: Lewis and Clark in their first council with the native people of the region, a telegrapher and the first transcontinental telegraph, a member of the Otoe tribe, a surveyor for the transcontinental railroad, and Googlers working at the data center.

The largest of the murals created for the Dublin data center is placed on one of the louvered walls that allow fresh Irish air to pass freely into the building and efficiently cool the servers inside.

On this wall, Fuchsia illustrates Phoenix Park in Dublin. You can see the park’s free roaming deer and Tea Rooms.

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Posted by amiller in Arts & Culture, Blog, Google Cloud, Infrastructure