World’s Culture at Your Fingertips

Google’s new Arts & Culture app brings the world’s art, virtual tours and more to your smartphone

August 10th, 2016
Andreea Stretea, CD News

Experiencing world’s art  has just become a little easier, thanks to Google’s newly launched Arts & Culture application, which puts works of art from over a thousand museums across 70 countries into the palm of your hand.

Art is a big subject. It embodies the values of humanity, preserves our culture and serves as a record of our very history. Jumping into it can be daunting and scary at a time, but Google just made it a little easier with its new Arts & Culture Application.

The app goes beyond offering only static images and text – instead, it now offers tools to search art works by any keyword, browse by color, as well as see artists’ works evolve over time. It even supports 360-degree virtual tours, which you can view in Google Cardboard, and a ‘’Shazam for art’’- like feature that will identify the painting in your camera’s viewfinder.

There are also things that the technology enables which are not even possible in the real world – like being able to view, at a glance, all of an artist’s work on a scrollable timeline. After all, many artists’ collections are spread across multiple museums around the world, which makes it difficult to perform a comprehensive comparison of the artist whole lifetime’s work.

While these features help the app’s users to discover and understand art, one of its most interesting features is its support for virtual tours. Already, the company has been working to offer ways to virtually visit famous landmarks, natural and man-made wonders, and more through its ‘’Expeditions’’ program, aimed at bringing virtual field trips to schools.

With a virtual reality viewer like Google Cardboard, you can use the Google Arts & Culture app on iOS and Android to take a virtual tour of the street art scene in Rome; step inside a creation by the famous street artist Insa; or even travel 2.500 years back in time and look around the ancient Greek temple of Zeus.

There are also Street View-like tours available too; you can drag the image around with your finger and tap to move through the exhibition or location much as if you were navigating on Google Maps Street View.

Another really clever feature is called ‘’Art Recognizer’’, which works at selected galleries including London’s Dulwich Picture Gallery, Sydney’s Art Gallery of New South Wales and the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. With this, you can point your phone at the painting, and the app will pull up all the information about the artwork.


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