The first cultural entity in Pittsburgh to be included in the Google Cultural Institute will be The Frick in Point Breeze, putting the museum in the company of 1,000 others around the world.
Some 150 pieces from the Frick’s collection of cars and carriages, paintings, decorative arts, costumes and prints will be added to the online collection of art and artifacts, a Google spokesman said. With more than 6 million pieces of art from museums and other cultural exhibits, the Google Cultural Institute was first introduced in 2011 following the launch of its Google Art Project, and is billed as an effort “to make important cultural material available and accessible to everyone and to digitally preserve it to educate and inspire future generations.”
Google spokesman Patrick Lenihan says the Google Cultural Institute is in keeping with Google’s larger mission of organizing information online and making it available to anyone. Often with works of art, one has to be aware of their existence, or visiting a large cultural center like New York City in order to be exposed to them, he notes.
But the Google Cultural Institute makes art, artifacts and performances available to anyone with an internet connection, and can offer ways to discover works of art and historical significance that viewers may not be familiar with, he says. Each piece in the exhibit is searchable and annotated with information about its creator and its significance, and visitors to the site can search by geography, subject area or a specific museum.
“One question we get is, why would someone visit a museum if these pieces are available online?” Lenihan adds. “But what we’ve found is that when we put exhibits online, the museums see an increase in foot traffic.”
Among the content available are works from larger institutions like the British Museum, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and exhibits organized by interest area, such as Women’s Culture, Historic Moments or World Wonders.
Lenihan says he hopes the Frick exhibit, which will be unveiled at a press event Thursday at the museum, will encourage more participation by Pittsburgh institutions in the Google Cultural Institute.