Learn about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the Google Cultural Institute

This August marks the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. Working together with the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, we’ve launched seven new online exhibits on the Google Cultural Institute that help tell the story of the two cities and their tragic fate.

Explore four collections from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum that illustrate the bombing from different perspectives: a pocketwatch stopped at the exact time of the detonation, diaries of young women cut off abruptly on August 6, and panoramic photos of the hauntingly barren city center days after. While most of the materials document the harrowing devastation of the bomb and its aftermath, the gallery “Recalling the Lost Neighborhoods” helps archive the old Hiroshima that vanished off the map.
Pocketwatch showing 8:15, the time of the atomic bomb drop (from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum)

The Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum meanwhile curated photos, videos, and drawings in three exhibitions. One collection focuses on the famed Urakami Cathedral—the largest cathedral in East Asia where 15,000 Japanese Catholics once worshipped. The church completely collapsed after the bombing, but thanks to a post-war reconstruction effort, the Urakami Cathedral now stands triumphant as a symbol of the city’s rebirth.
Urakami Cathedral exhibition (from the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum)

Speaking at an unveiling ceremony for the exhibits in Hiroshima today, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui said, “Through the Google Cultural Institute exhibitions, we hope that people around the world would learn about the terrible experiences of the Hibakusha, or A-bomb survivors, and wish for peace.”

The Cultural Institute was created to help preserve the world's history and heritage. Given the average age of the Hibakusha is now past 78, we're honored that our digital exhibit can help keep the memories from both cities alive for the future.

From Sutton Hoo to the soccer pitch: culture with a click

Museums, libraries and galleries are a tourist staple of the summer holiday season. Often they’re the first place we head to when visiting a new city or town in order to learn about the heritage of that country. Though only a lucky few have the chance to travel to see these treasures first-hand, the Internet is helping to bring access to culture even when you can’t visit in person.

At the Google Cultural Institute, we’ve been busy working with our partners to add a range of new online exhibitions to our existing collection. With more than 6 million photos, videos and documents, the diversity and range of subject matter is large—a reflection of the fact that culture means different things to different people. What the exhibitions have in common is that they tell stories; objects are one thing but it’s the people and places they link to that make them fascinating.

The British Museum is the U.K.’s most popular visitor attraction and the 4th most visited museum in the world. It’s well known for housing one of the most spectacular archaeological discoveries ever made—the 1,400 year old Anglo-Saxon burial from Sutton Hoo, untouched until its discovery in 1939. Their online exhibition “Sutton Hoo: Anglo-Saxon ship burial” explores the discovery of the ship, featuring videos of the excavation and photos of the iconic helmet and a solid gold belt buckle. All this tells the story of how the burial and its contents changed our understanding of what Anglo-Saxon society was like.

From archaeology we take you to sport, which is integral to the culture of many nations, including Brazil. In the lead-up to Brazil's hosting of the 2014 World Cup, the Museu do Futebol has told the story of how the “beautiful game” came to Brazil. The photos, videos and posters in “The Game and the People” track the social impact of the sport and its transition from a past time for the wealthy (with their pleated pants and satin belts) to the modern game.

Science remains a perennially fascinating topic and the Museo Galileo in Italy has put together a series of three exhibitions looking at the link between art and science. The Medici Collections, the Lorraine Collections and the Library Collections examine the beginnings of science and technology 500 years ago and chart developments from the discovery of the sun dial to the Google Maps of today. As well as being informative, the exhibitions include beautiful objects such as the Jovilabe, which was used to calculate the periods of Jupiter’s moons.

So if broadening your cultural horizons through travel isn’t in the cards this summer, settle down in your armchair and browse through through some of the world’s heritage and history online. Keep up to date with new material on the Cultural Institute Google+ page.

Mario Testino to "The Scream" via Mark Rothko

Every day on the Art Project Google+ page we post a snippet of information about a painting, an artist or a talk—and every day, at least one of our 4 million followers has something to say in response. We’re constantly delighted by how the appetite for art online is growing and today we have a veritable feast in store with a swathe of fresh artworks, gigapixel paintings and museums on Street View.

New artworks from the famous to the unusual
Mario Testino is a world-famous photographer, known for his work in the fashion industry. Fewer people are aware of his photographs focusing on the culture of his native Peru. A new body of photographs called “Alta Moda” (high fashion), featuring Andean people in traditional and festive dress, is currently on display in Testino’s cultural institution, MATE. And for those of you not lucky enough to visit Lima, you can now see this collection of 27 photos online on the Google Art Project.

In total, we have more than 1,500 new high-resolution artworks including masterpieces such as Monet’s “Waterlilies,” Rembrandt’s “Portrait of a Man in a Broad-Brimmed Hat” and Johannes Vermeer’s “The Geographer” (meaning Art Project now houses 15 of his 34 total works, all contributed by different museums). However, the diversity goes well beyond paintings; from ancestral relics used to worship the dead to an ancient Jinsha gold mask from China thought to have been worn by sorcerers. Often the old contrasts with the new, with inscribed Arabic gemstones existing alongside contemporary glass structures from Germany as you can see in this “Compare” image below.

Zoom in to “gigapixel” paintings
Gigapixel paintings—very high-resolution works which enable you to zoom in at brushstroke level—have long been at the heart of the Art Project. They’re a great example of the magic that can happen when technology meets art—and today we have 16 new ones to add, ranging from famous pieces like “The Scream” by Edvard Munch to those chosen by public vote such as “Whitewashing the Old House” by L.A. Ring.

The beauty of gigapixels is their ability to surprise. Look at the painting “Fra Stalheim” by Johan Christian Dahl, shown in full on the left below. You’ll see a beautiful landscape. Zoom in, however, and you discover scenes within a scene—a village with smoking chimneys, a woman tending to her child, and cows grazing on the hillside. Details that can’t always be fully appreciated by the naked eye are brought to life online.

Immerse yourself in Street View
Through Street View and the Google Art Project, many museums have opened their galleries to the world the past few years, and today we’re launching 20 more. For example, Fondation Beyeler Museum in Switzerland houses a collection of seven Mark Rothko paintings. Now anyone in the world can virtually explore the collection.

Of course art collections are not exclusively found in museums—we’re delighted to have our first monastery on Street View in the Art Project. The Monastery of St. John the Theologian on the Greek island of Patmos was founded in 1088 and is a World Heritage Site. In addition to their 116 contributed artworks, you can also explore the architectural splendors of this ancient building.

Jump inside a whole range of beautiful buildings and corridors here by clicking on the orange pegman where it appears.

In a week that celebrates International Museum Day, we’re glad to be able to showcase some of the great treasures held by museums and cultural institutions the world over. There are so many benefits to bringing more content online, be it discovering a new style of art or artist, creating your own gallery, stumbling across a hidden detail of a painting you thought you knew or simply being inspired by something beautiful. With more than 40,000 total works and 250+ cultural organisations around the globe, we hope the experience will be more enriching than ever.

Urban art, zoomorphic whistles and Hungarian poetry

There are few places (if any) in the world where you could find urban art, zoomorphic whistles* and Hungarian poetry in a single place—except, of course, on the Internet.

Today 30 new partners are joining the Google Art Project, contributing nearly 2,000 diverse works including contemporary art from Latin America, ancient art from China, rare Japanese paintings and Palaeolithic flint heads from Spain.

One highlight of the new collection is a project to capture the growing trend of urban art and graffiti in Brazil. More than 100 works from walls, doors and galleries in São Paulo have been photographed and will be included in the Art Project. The pieces were chosen by a group of journalists, artists and graffiti experts and include artists such as Speto, Kobra and Space Invader, as well as images of São Paulo’s most famous building-size murals. You can see the contrast in styles in the Compare tool and image below.

Photography features strongly in the works our partners are bringing online this time around. The Fundacion MAPFRE in Spain showcases one of the largest collections with more than 300 photos from a number of renowned photographers. For example, you can explore Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide’s black and white images of indigenous Mexican culture inspired by themes of ritual, death and feminism.

The Art Project is also becoming a home to rare and precious items which move beyond paintings. Petőfi Literary Museum in Hungary has contributed the Nemzeti Dal or “National Song,” a Hungarian poem which is said to have been the inspiration for the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. The original document has rarely been seen in public to prevent humidity and light fading the script further. Online now for the first time, it can be explored by anyone in the world.

With 40,000+ artworks to explore from more than 200 museums in more than 40 countries, we look forward to seeing these new works feature in hundreds of thousands of user galleries you have created to date. Keep an eye on our Google+ page for more details about the new collections.

*ceramic whistles in the shape of animals!

Introducing Art Talks on Google+

An excellent guide often best brings an art gallery or museum’s collections to life. Starting this week, we’re hoping to bring this experience online with “Art Talks,” a series of Hangouts on Air on our Google Art Project Google+ page. Each month, curators, museum directors, historians and educators from some of the world’s most renowned cultural institutions will reveal the hidden stories behind particular works, examine the curation process and provide insights into particular masterpieces or artists.

The first guided visit will be held this Wednesday, March 6 at 8pm ET from The Museum of Modern Art. Deborah Howes, Director of Digital Learning, along with a panel of artists and students, will discuss how to teach art online. To post a question, visit the event page. If this talk falls too late for you to tune in live, you can watch afterward on our Google Art Project YouTube channel.

The next talk is from London. On March 20, Caroline Campbell and Arnika Schmidt from the National Gallery will discuss depictions of the female nude. Details are available on the Art Project’s event page. In April we’ll host a panel examining one of the Google Art Project’s popular gigapixel works, Bruegel’s “Tower of Babel,” featuring Peter Parshall, curator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

Additional talks are planned by curators from high-profile institutions such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Museo Nacional de Arte in Mexico and the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar.

Google Art Project aims to make art more accessible to all. We hope that Art Talks is the next step in bringing art to your armchair, wherever you are in the world, with just a click of a button. Stay tuned to the Art Project and Cultural Institute Google+ pages for more information on dates and times of these online lectures.

Explore Spain's Jewish heritage online

You can now discover Spain’s Jewish heritage on a new site powered by comprehensive and accurate Google Maps: www.redjuderias.org/google.

Using the Google Maps API, Red de Juderías de España has built a site where you can explore more than 500 landmarks that shed light on Spain’s Jewish population throughout history. By clicking on a landmark, you can get historical information, pictures or texts, and a 360º view of the location, thanks to Street View technology. You can also use the search panel on the top of the page to filter the locations by category, type, geographic zone or date.

Toledo, Synagogue Santamaría la Blanca

Information is included on each landmark

This project is just one of our efforts to bring important cultural content online. This week, we worked with the Israel Antiquities Authority to launch the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library, an online collection of more than 5,000 scroll fragments, and last year we announced a project to digitize and make available the Yad Vashem Museum’s Holocaust archives. With the Google Art Project, people around the world can also view and explore more than 35,000 works of art in 180 museums.

Read more about this project on the Europe Blog. We hope this new site will inspire you to learn more about Spain’s Jewish history, and perhaps to visit these cities in person.

“In the beginning”...bringing the scrolls of Genesis and the Ten Commandments online

A little over a year ago, we helped put online five manuscripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls—ancient documents that include the oldest known biblical manuscripts in existence. Written more than 2,000 years ago on pieces of parchment and papyrus, they were preserved by the hot, dry desert climate and the darkness of the caves in which they were hidden. The Scrolls are possibly the most important archaeological discovery of the 20th century.

Today, we’re helping put more of these ancient treasures online. The Israel Antiquities Authority is launching the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library, an online collection of some 5,000 images of scroll fragments, at a quality never seen before. The texts include one of the earliest known copies of the Book of Deuteronomy, which includes the Ten Commandments; part of Chapter 1 of the Book of Genesis, which describes the creation of the world; and hundreds more 2,000-year-old texts, shedding light on the time when Jesus lived and preached, and on the history of Judaism.

The Ten Commandments. Photo by Shai Halevi, courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority

Part of the Book of Genesis. Photo by Shai Halevi, courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority

Millions of users and scholars can discover and decipher details invisible to the naked eye, at 1215 dpi resolution. The site displays infrared and color images that are equal in quality to the Scrolls themselves. There’s a database containing information for about 900 of the manuscripts, as well as interactive content pages. We’re thrilled to have been able to help this project through hosting on Google Storage and App Engine, and use of Maps, YouTube and Google image technology.

This partnership with the Israel Antiquities Authority is part of our ongoing work to bring important cultural and historical materials online, to make them accessible and help preserve them for future generations. Other examples include the Yad Vashem Holocaust photo collection, Google Art Project, World Wonders and the Google Cultural Institute.

We hope you enjoy visiting the Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library, or any of these other projects, and interacting with history.