Not enough people are talking about the fascinating ocean of artistic and cultural information available for free online from the Google Cultural Institute. Better known on the web as Google Arts & Culture, this program by Google offers interactive, explanatory, informational, and most importantly, fun content of all kinds for those interested in art and cultural subjects. The Google Arts & Culture website is vast and encompasses all types of art, music, technology, science, heritage, and experimental content in partnership with a large number of museums and cultural institutions around the world.
This article is in no way sponsored by or affiliated with Google Arts & Culture or any of the partnering institutes. The author is just a huge fan of the initiative!
The Google Cultural Institute offers many different creative things to do and a large body of knowledge created in partnership with organizations like the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, NASA, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Global Street Art Foundation. Along with games and the opportunity to find cultural institutions near you using their map, Google Arts & Culture offers collections of exciting content organized in Themes. The Themes encompass many different subjects from the oddly specific to the highly popular. There are a ton of them. This article collects the 5 most exciting Google Arts & Culture Themes (and some honorable mentions) that are definitely worth exploring this spring break.
- Black Histories, Black Futures
The Black Histories, Black Futures Theme is part of Google Cultural Institute’s Black History and Culture collection. This theme features Afrofuturist content like The Afrofuture is Now, a collection of artistic explorations steeped in Afrofuturist possibilities including astral jazz and Afrobubblegum film. This collection is an excellent introduction to the world of Afrofuturism, and it also engages the Black past. The Black Histories, Black Futures Theme holds a collection of historic film clips related to Black history, and scans of historic documents like the original script of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
- Memory of the World
In partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (in shorter form: UNESCO), Google Arts & Culture has created a Theme revolving around the human history of the world. From the primordial to the very recent, Memory of the World compiles historical documents of interest, including ancient maps and illustrations, archival sheet music, photographs and images of valuable inscriptions on landmarks around the world. The focus of the Memory of the World Theme is to reiterate the value of historical documentation. The history of global humanity, something UNESCO focuses on preserving, is comprehensively documented in this Theme.
- Into the Deep
The Into the Deep collection spotlights the mystery and wonder of the open ocean through a combination of geoscientific explanations, historical content, and fun images and videos. This Theme highlights the discoveries made by oceanic researchers and the biggest questions scientists today seek to answer about the ocean. Into the Deep includes 360° VR explorations of life onboard a polar expedition ship, a history of the last 100 years of oceanic exploration and interviews and profiles of the ocean’s most prolific explorers and researchers. For those of you fascinated with the intersection of science and technology, this one’s for you!
- You asked, Art Answered
Google Arts & Culture partnered with the BBC to create the You Asked, Art Answered Theme. In a collection of video essays, articles, images, and interactive experiences, this Theme seeks to answer the biggest questions humanity has asked. Artists attempt to answer questions like “Do we have free will?” “Are there other life forms outside of our world?” and “What is love?” These questions may seem unanswerable, but by using art as a tool to seek knowledge, the artists featured in this theme come close.
- Saving Internet Art
Digital art is becoming increasingly commonplace and critically acknowledged. But much like the ancient manuscripts of human civilization or the at-risk artifacts hidden in the cradle of civilization, digital art is just as much in need of proper preservation. The Saving Internet Art Theme takes a deep dive into modern-day tools for digital art preservation. Further, the Theme explores Internet art’s history, unique challenges for preservation, and radical use of the Internet as performance or mode of storytelling.
These honorable mentions are some more of the best picks from the Google Arts & Culture Themes collection.
- Interspecies Assembly – from page description: “Discover how Siphonophores came to play a major role in an artwork aiming to inspire action on the environment.”
- Arts & Culture Expeditions – Take an artistically educational virtual field trip using the Expeditions tool!
- The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks – Using 360° VR technology, this Theme provides immersive content exploring the United States’ National Parks. See the Yellowstone National Park or the Grand Canyon in a new way!
- Sounds Like Kandinsky – from page description: “The abstract artist Vassily Kandinsky’s world of sounds, shapes, and colors.”
- United States of Culture – This Theme is a mega-collection of knowledge and content America’s greatest cultural institutions have to offer.
- Open Heritage – from page description: “Explore iconic locations in 3D, discover the tools of digital preservation, and download the collection.”
- Love – This Theme centers around the topic of Love: what it means, how it’s expressed, and how it leaves a mark on art and culture around the world.