Google Arts & Culture Digitizes Artifacts Following Brazil Museum Fire

“Earlier this year, 20 million irreplaceable artifacts housed by Brazil’s National Museumwere lost in a fire. As the museum did not have a platform for viewing most of these works digitally, many people feared that their memory would be lost forever. However, thanks to a two-year-old project spearheaded by Google, a lucky selection of these priceless pieces will live a second life online.

 

In 2016, Google Arts & Culture teamed up with the Museu Nacional in an effort to digitize its collections. Using Street View imagery, the initial goal of this undertaking was “to bring their collection online—so that anyone, anywhere in the world could see and learn about these ancient artifacts.” Since the fire, however, this project has served a much greater purpose.

With a couple clicks of a mouse, users are transported to the museum as it once stood. Featuring high-resolution photographs that offer 360-degree views of both the artifacts and the galleries they once inhabited, this invaluable project lets users wander through the lost museum and wade through some of its destroyed objects. Ancient sculptures, scientific specimens, and Luzia, the oldest fossilized human remains found in the Americas, are just some of the pieces immortalized in this virtual treasure trove….”

Google Virtual Tour Preserves Collections Destroyed in Brazil Museum Fire | Smart News | Smithsonian

“In early September, a fire roared through the 200-year-old National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, destroying up to 90 percent of its precious collections. The extent of the damages was “incalculable,” Brazil President Michel Temer stated on Twitter at the time. “Two hundred years of work, research and knowledge have been lost.”

 

While it is true that little can be done to restore so many of the museum’s irreplaceable specimens and artifacts, a recently launched Google Arts & Culture project hopes to see the institution live on in the digital realm. As Kelly Richman-Abodou reports for My Modern Met, Street View imagery has made it possible to take a virtual tour of the museum as it stood before tragedy struck.

In what would prove to be a fortuitous collaboration, Google started working with the National Museum of Brazil in 2016 to digitize the museum’s collections and capture its interior through “high-resolution photography, photogrammetry, 3D laser scanning, and virtual and augmented reality,” writes Chance Coughenour, program manager of Google Arts & Culture, in a blog post. Google has embarked on similar projects with many other museums and heritage sites, but its partnership with the National Museum of Brazil has become particularly important in the wake of the fire….”

Want to See All the Vermeers in the World? Now’s Your Chance – The New York Times

“The Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, which owns what is perhaps Vermeer’s best-known masterpiece, “Girl With a Pearl Earring,” has teamed up with Google Arts & Culture in Paris to build an augmented-reality app that creates a virtual museum featuring all of the artist’s works.

For the app, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has contributed images of all five of its Vermeer masterpieces, while the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, each with four, have also given photographs of theirs. Two more have come from the Louvre, and three from the Frick Collection. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston has shared an image of “The Concert,” the Vermeer that disappeared after being stolen from the museum’s collection in 1990….

 

That painting will be on view once again in Meet Vermeer, the digital museum. Starting Monday, the free app will be accessible to anyone with a camera-equipped smartphone….

“This is one of these moments when technology does something that you can never do in real life, and that’s because these paintings could never be brought together in real life,” said Emilie Gordenker, director of the Mauritshuis.

She explained that some of the 17th-century paintings were too fragile to travel, while some were in private collections, and the Gardner’s was lost. But even under different circumstances, it would be unlikely that all the owners would be willing to part with all of their prized Vermeers at the same time.

The 18 museums and private collections that own Vermeer paintings, however, were willing to provide high-resolution digital image files of their Vermeers to the project….”

Sketchfab – Your 3D content on web, mobile, AR, and VR.

“Sketchfab is empowering a new era of creativity by making it easy for anyone to publish and find 3D content online. With a community of millions of creators who have published millions of models, we are the largest platform for immersive and interactive 3D. Additionally, our store allows thousands of buyers and sellers to transact in confidence using our realtime 3D viewer and model inspector. 

Our technology is integrated with every major 3D creation tool and publishing platform, and is compatible with every browser and most VR headsets. Our player is embeddable anywhere on the web, and lets you view and share 3D and VR content on social media such as Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.”

Google, CyArk to Build VR Models of World’s Endangered Heritage Sites | Technology News

Google has joined hands with CyArk, a California-based 3D laser scanning non-profit, to build virtual reality (VR)representations of historical sites around the world that are at risk of destruction due to human conflict or natural disasters, media reports said.

The joint effort – called the Open Heritage project – will use CyArk’s (short for cyber archive) laser-scanning technology to capture and archive the imperiled archaeological wonders from all over the world…”

Preserving endangered wonders of the world, for generations to come

“When Ben Kacyra watched on TV as the Taliban destroyed 1,500 year-old Buddhist statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan in 2001, he felt compelled to do something. Mr. Kacyra, who happens to be one of the creators of the world’s first three-dimensional laser scanning system, realized that his technology could be used to record monuments at risk of damage due to natural disasters, war, or tourism, so that they could be preserved for future generations.

He founded CyArk, a non-profit that has created the world’s largest and most detailed 3D digital archive of endangered wonders of the world—a lasting record of monuments at risk of disappearing. Now, Google Arts & Culture has partnered with CyArk to open up access to their virtual wonders and share their stories with everyone. …”

Connecting to the past in a digital environment | CyArk

“Conveying a sense of wonder and intimacy for the past has been both the most challenging and yet most rewarding part of my work as an archaeologist. Before recently joining CyArk, I worked as the Co-Field Director of the Catalhoyuk Research Project. The newly concluded 25-year research program led under Ian Hodder at the 9000-year old Neolithic site produced a plethora of information on the everyday lives of the original inhabitants of the site. Details, such as the connection between a geometric wall painting and a child’s burial, or that knowing that each stone, found in a cluster by the chest of a buried woman, were distinctively different in colour, were the things that always sparked wonder in me.”

CyArk Wins Inaugural Ptolemy Data Science Award | CyArk

“CyArk was recently named the inaugrual winner of the Ptolemy Data Science Award presented by industry leader Seagate Technologies. Our own VP of Programs, Elizabeth Lee was very proud to accept the award at an event in Chicago in August on behalf of the organization. The beautifully designed award now sits proudly in the CyArk office.

Candidates were evaluated on the basis of Social Impact, Creative Exploration and Scientific Achievement and CyArk was chosen in particular for our “groundbreaking work in pioneering new ways of using data to safeguard and explore human civilization”. …”

Ben Kacyra: Ancient wonders captured in 3D | TED Talk

“Ancient monuments give us clues to astonishing past civilizations — but they’re under threat from pollution, war, neglect. Ben Kacyra, who invented a groundbreaking 3D scanning system, is using his invention to scan and preserve the world’s heritage in archival detail. (Watch to the end for a little demo.)”