Google has been working with museums to populate its Google Cultural Institute, an online collection of virtual exhibitions from around the world. Today, it’s opening up that project to anyone who wants to create an online exhibit can do so, from independent museums to individual artists. Google’s Open Gallery tool makes it possible, letting anyone upload videos, images and Street View content, and then combining that with text to publish an interactive guided tour through a collection of cultural artifacts.
Forty-five new Google Open Gallery projects are live today, so people can check out some visually stunning exhibitions of gallery showings by European artists. You can request an invite to gain access to the tools yourself, too, and access and use is free. You can create an independent site using the browser-based publisher, or add a virtual exhibition or collection to your own existing website, too. It’s probably something any professional photographer or artist should at the very least take a look at, as it requires no programming knowledge and can create some beautiful, immersive virtual tours.
Google has also opened a physical extension of its Cultural Institute experimental arm, called the Lab, located at their Paris office. They’ll be experimenting with 3D scanners, super high-resolution cameras and interactive screens to see how those technologies might be useful in museums and other real-world exhibits, and how they can help improve online presentation of cultural artifacts, too.
In general, I’m a fan of when Google puts resources into projects that have the potential to make cultural artifacts more accessible like this one, and the Open Gallery tool is far more advanced than something like an image-heavy Tumblr. It feels like Google has taken the bones of what was its Blogger acquisition and made it into something truly robust that really suits the needs of cultural institutions in a uniquely advantageous way. It’ll be interesting to see how much uptake this gets among photographers just looking to get their work out there in a way that’s more visually appealing.