Google announced today it’s making a platform available to museums that enables them to build mobile applications that take advantage of Google technology, including Street View and YouTube, to bring their exhibits to anyone with a smartphone. Through partnerships between museums worldwide and the Google Cultural Institute, there are now 11 museums and cultural institutions that have participated in this pilot project to date; their apps are live now on Google Play.
The early adopters of this new software platform include museums and institutions in Italy, France, the Netherlands and Nigeria, such as the Museum of Arts et Métiers, MAO, GAM, Palazzo Madama, Musee Curie, Museum of Le Havre, Monnaie de Paris, MAGA, Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, and the Pan-Atlantic University app, to name a few.
The efforts are being headed up by the Google Cultural Institute, the division of Google tasked with bringing cultural treasures from around the world online and making them accessible to all – instead of only to those who are able to make the trip to where the art is being shown, or where the landmarks or other world heritage sites exist. In the past, this group has spearheaded projects like digitizing the Dead Sea Scrolls, documenting the World Wonders in Street View and 3D, and bringing art museums online via Art Project.
The newer mobile tools are an extension of that latter effort, as they also take advantage of Google’s “indoor” Street View technology to offer 360 degree tours. The apps may also offer photos of the exhibits and audio tours, along with social-sharing features that let visitors post what they’re viewing in a museum to networks like Google+ and Facebook, as well as to email, Gmail and more.
Offline access is also available, as those who are touring the museums may be traveling abroad and don’t have an internet connection.
However, you don’t have to actually visit a museum to check out the apps; because of the virtual tours, you can virtually visit museums and read about the exhibits as you move through the tour.
The museums are able to launch these apps without any in-house technical expertise because of their partnership with Google – they provide the access, and Google does the coding.
Museums, institutions, and private collections interested in partnering with Google on their own applications can request more info here.
P.S. Does anyone else think it’s weird that the above video sounds like it was made in iMovie?