Of the many critical conversations that the world’s academics, decision makers and thinkers are engaged in right now, in the midst of this unprecedented global crisis, one of the most important is how the current pandemic will affect the way we live once the crisis is over.
Will cinemas and theatres attract the same numbers as they did before the crisis? Will our shopping habits shift with even more people choosing to shop online? Will more people choose to work from home?
The Coronavirus Crisis has forced us to change how we do literally everything. From shopping for groceries, to how we socialise and date, the crisis has made societies confront the neccesity of their actions.
One of the most profound changes forced upon societies during the pandemic, is a shift in how we consume culture. The closing of the world’s cinemas, theatres, art galleries and museums has forced the art world to come up with new ways of disseminating culture. Museums and galleries have created virtual tours, cinemas have released their movies on demand, and theatres have streamed their productions over the web.
The Google Arts & Culture Project
Not surprisingly, Google is at the centre of this evolving conversation on how we consume culture. The Google Arts & Culture project existed before the pandemic began, but as the crisis escalated, the platform has become even more relevant.
Website & App
Google’s new project represents an attempt by the company to catalogue the work of all of the major art institutions and collections in the world. Presented in the form of a website and accompanying app, the project is clearly still in its infancy, judging by the availability of content.
The app is divided into Collections, Themes and Experiments. The Collections tab opens to display an A-z of major museums and galleries. The Themes tab lists collections in relation to various topics, and the Experiment tab showcases a series of “experiments at the crossroads of art and technology”.
Faces of Frida
In late March 2020, at the height of the global Coronavirus Pandemic, the project launched its most ambitious exhibition to date, Faces of Frida. Described as the “world’s largest collection of Frida Kahlo artefacts”, the collection looks at the many faces of Kahlo, through her life, art and legacy.
The collection has been assembled in conjunction with several major galleries, including Washington DC’s National Museum of Women in the Arts and Mexico City’s Museo Frida Kahlo.
Faces of Frida has a surprising depth, with countless works by the legendary artist, as well as sketches, drawings, and other artefacts. Better yet, there are videos from and stories and discussion pieces from collaborators.
Google does not expect its new website and app to replace museums and galleries, however, as a comprehensive addition to the work of such institutions, the project has great merit and value. What visitors lose in real world authenticity, is made up for by the comprehensive nature of the collections which the search engine giant has amassed. The Faces of Frida exhibition gives a bold demonstration of what the platform is capable of and also an indication of the project’s potential value.
Google’s Art & Culture Project is a brilliant resource that would be ideal for art history students or those who need a comprehensive overview of an artist or institution’s collection. Moreover, in a world where many cannot leave their homes, Googles’ new project demonstrates that art & culture can even survive the closures and deprivations of a pandemic.
More information about the initiative can be found here.
For information on other ways to consume the arts during the Coronavirus Crisis, please click here.