Through a new partnership between Google and 15 Pittsburgh institutions, people around the world can discover the city’s rich culture, past and present, by going online to a single location.

Google is partnering with the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh Glass Center, Senator John Heinz History Center, the Clemente Museum, the Mattress Factory and other heavy hitters to place some of their exhibits — including virtual tours — on a new Google Arts & Culture page.

“Pittsburgh is a trailblazer in American culture, from manufacturing to contemporary art, and now everyone can experience the sights and sounds that make it so unique,” says Todd Underwood, senior director of engineering and Google Pittsburgh site lead.

The project includes more than 55 stories and 3,200 artifacts. For example, on the platform people can:

— Take 360-degree virtual tours of the Mattress Factory, Clemente Museum, Carlow University Art Gallery, Pittsburgh Glass Center and 91.3 FM WYEP, where they can also listen to up-and-coming local musicians.

— See life in the city’s Black communities through the archived work of Pittsburgh Courier photographer Teenie Harris at the Carnegie Museum of Art.

— Take a gallery crawl with Boom Concepts to meet contemporary artists.

— Learn the history of how the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust turned 14 mostly abandoned city blocks into a thriving arts district.

— Explore the works of sculptors at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center, the city’s manufacturing history at the Heinz History Center or Gilded Age fashion at The Frick Pittsburgh. 

Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Additional partners include Rivers of Steel Heritage Corp., the University of Pittsburgh Library System, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

August Carlino, president and CEO of Rivers of Steel, says the project offers opportunities to showcase the organization’s efforts to preserve southwestern Pennsylvania’s cultural and industrial heritage.

“For our partnership with Google, we’ve highlighted two stories that speak to this regional narrative — one, a story of a labor struggle that reverberated for generations, and the other, a reflection of the hazards of daily life for Pittsburgh’s mill workers,” Carlino says.

Toby Greenwalt, director of digital strategy for the Carnegie Library, says the library shared “a sampling of the more than 18,000 images that make up our Pittsburgh Photographic Collection, that capture the city’s people, places and events.” 

Pittsburgh is the first city in the Northeast and fifth in the U.S. to participate in the global initiative to capture the culture of cities. Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Charlotte and Atlanta join European cultural hubs on the platform, including Milan and Naples in Italy, Lyon, France, and Hamburg, Germany. 

Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald hope the project inspires people to visit Pittsburgh.

“For years, we’ve known that our quality of life makes this region attractive to individuals and companies, and that includes our vibrant, robust arts and culture community,” says Fitzgerald. “Not only will this feature remind our residents exactly what they have in their own backyard, but [it] may also entice others to come see firsthand the dynamic and engaging organizations that call this region home.” 

Google established an office at Bakery Square in Pittsburgh in 2005, with more than 800 employees. Its Grow with Google initiative was launched here in 2016 to provide resources to job seekers and small businesses. 

Sandra Tolliver

Sandra Tolliver is a freelance writer, editor and public relations professional in Upper St. Clair.